How Some People Travel to the U.S. After Positive Covid Tests

Michelle Fishman calls it the “worst-case scenario that you don’t really think through.”

After a three-week vacation in Greece, the 52-year-old hotel art consultant from Miami and her husband took pre-departure coronavirus tests required to fly home from overseas. She tested positive, he did not.

Although coronavirus travel restrictions have eased across many parts of the world, the United States still requires all international air passengers to present a negative test taken within one day of departure. And according to guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ms. Fishman should have isolated and delayed travel for 10 days, but she said she had to get home earlier to officiate at a wedding.

Instead, she took advantage of a quirk in the rules to head home after five days (the mandatory self-isolation period required by the Greek government) via a “backdoor” — crossing into the United States by land, which does not require a coronavirus test, rather than by air. Because Canada does not require a test for entry, the couple first flew to Toronto and, after spending a night there, Ms. Fishman and her husband drove across the border into Buffalo and caught a flight home. (There is no testing requirement for flying domestically.)

“I had zero symptoms, no fever, nothing. I felt fine and when you’re stateside, the C.D.C. says you can end isolation five days after testing positive, so the same rules should apply when I’m traveling,” Ms. Fishman said. “It makes no sense that I can go to a wedding five days after a positive test in Miami, but if I catch the virus when I’m on vacation I can’t fly home. That should be illegal.”

It is not clear how many infected people are using backdoor routes to get home, which can also include flying to Mexico and using a land crossing there, because airlines do not require passengers to provide reasons for canceling or changing flights. But strong anecdotal evidence indicates that some travelers — and travel advisers — are sharing suggestions for how to avoid getting stuck.

In flying to Toronto, Ms. Fishman said she was following the guidance of a family friend who used a similar backdoor route to get home to Boston when he tested positive in France in April.

Asked if she was worried about infecting other passengers on her long journey home from Greece (she tested positive again, on her fifth day), Ms. Fishman pointed to the C.D.C.’s guidance for people who catch the virus in the United States, which says that asymptomatic people or those with symptoms that have resolved within the five-day isolation period can leave their homes. The recommendation is based on the science that the majority of coronavirus transmission occurs early in the course of the illness, the C.D.C. said.

“I slept in the same bed as my husband for five nights and he didn’t catch it, so I don’t think I was contagious by the time I took the flight home,” Ms. Fishman said. “I wore a mask the whole time.”

The C.D.C. did not say why it has different policies in place for Americans who test positive at home and abroad, but a spokeswoman for the agency reiterated that travelers should follow the 10-day guidance to not travel before boarding a flight to the United States, even if they test negative. The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on the possibility of travelers using land borders to circumvent the testing requirement for air travel.

The United States introduced the testing requirement in January 2021, when fewer than 10 percent of Americans were vaccinated and cases of new infections and hospitalizations were reaching record levels. Now, with higher vaccination rates and less severe cases of the virus, many American travelers, as well as industry representatives, are calling for the requirement to be lifted, arguing that it does little to prevent new variants of the virus from spreading in the United States.

“The existence of these workarounds highlights the absurdity of the current inbound testing policy that is nothing short of ineffective,” said Erika Richter, vice president of communications at the American Society of Travel Advisors, a trade organization. “We’re not following the science.”

David Freedman, president-elect of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, is concerned by travelers using this method, warning that infectious people taking a flight or public transportation to a border crossing will put a lot of people who are not up-to-date on their vaccinations at risk, including at airport eateries and other places along the way.

“From a public health point of view, the infectious person may be carrying in one of the new variants BA. 4 or BA. 5 which is more infectious and is not so common yet in the U.S.,” he said. “There may be new enhanced vaccines by the fall and introducing these variants sooner rather than later may be bad.”

After testing positive in Stockholm in early April, one American traveler and her wife decided to return to Seattle via Vancouver, because a U.S.- Canada border crossing was relatively close to their home. If she was required to take a test upon arrival at the Vancouver airport, she said, she planned to drive home and isolate there. The woman asked to speak anonymously, because she was afraid of negative repercussions.

“We had symptoms for about two weeks before testing positive. By the time we actually tested positive we felt great, with barely any symptoms, so we felt confident to travel,” she said. “Vancouver airport is pretty chill and low-key. If you look healthy, determined and at ease, no one is going to pull you out of a crowd.”

Upon arrival, Canadian officials often ask passengers health questions, and some airports, like those in Toronto and Vancouver, may randomly select some passengers to take coronavirus tests before being cleared to leave the airport.

The Canadian authorities warn infected people against attempting to transit through Canada, saying that they are not permitted to board flights into the country if they have Covid-19 symptoms or have been infected within 10 days of their departure. Before arriving in Canada, travelers have to fill out a health and travel form on the ArriveCAN app. The form contains a number of questions, including vaccination status and whether a passenger has coronavirus symptoms.

“All travelers arriving in Canada are obligated by Canadian law to respond truthfully to all questions,” said Rebecca Purdy, a senior spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency.

“Travelers who knowingly travel to Canada with an active Covid-19 infection and who do not disclose this information may face penalties and/or criminal charges and foreign nationals may also be denied entry and/or banned from returning to Canada,” Ms. Purdy said.

Mexican authorities did not return requests for comment. U.S. travelers may enter Mexico without testing or quarantine, though they may be subject to health screenings on arrival.

Despite the expense of last-minute bookings, the backdoor routes are also being used by people preemptively, to ensure they can travel home on time.

Hilary Aranda, 39, a user-experience designer, had just finished a two-week dance tour in Italy when 12 Americans in her group tested positive. To avoid a positive result and the possible headaches involved, she never took a test, instead canceling her flight home to Los Angeles for a flight to Tijuana, Mexico, with layovers in London and Mexico City. She then crossed the land border into San Diego and drove home. The changes to her itinerary set her back more than $2,000.

“Everyone around me had Covid and I knew with my luck that if I took the test, it would come out positive and I didn’t want to risk it,” said Ms. Aranda, who wore a mask on her flights. “Looking back, it was kind of a crazy decision and a big schlep, but I had to get back to my life and kids.”

Some travelers who are more risk-averse, but still determined to avoid isolation in another country, have been using telemedicine services like Quick MD to obtain “documentation of recovery” that allows people to travel to the United States without having to show a negative test. The option is available to travelers who continue to test positive 10 days after their initial positive test or onset of symptoms, as it can take weeks or even months before some people test negative.

During the video or phone consultation with a medical professional authorized to give travel clearance, some travelers have been lying about the date their symptoms started so that they can return home without having to complete the 10-day isolation period.

“It was a three-minute consultation, and I just told the doctor that my symptoms started earlier than they did,” said one traveler, who asked to speak anonymously out of fear of getting into trouble with authorities. He had tested positive in London a day before his scheduled flight home to New York, he said, but returned home three days later.

“I got my clearance document within an hour it was so easy,” he said.

Quick MD did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Ms. Fishman made it back home in time for the wedding and never developed Covid-19 symptoms, although she said she felt exhausted, which she blamed on the stress caused by the ordeal of trying to get back in time.

“My chances of catching Covid in Miami are just as high as catching it while I travel so the testing requirement is useless in my opinion,” she said.

Travelers contemplating a similar route should be warned that they can be caught out. Ms. Purdy, of the Canadian border services, noted that violating instructions upon entering Canada could lead to up to six months in prison, 750,000 Canadian dollars in fines (around $586,000) or both.

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U.S. Virgin Islands Ending COVID Travel Restrictions for American Travelers — What to Know

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Pandemic-weary Americans plan for summer despite COVID surge

HONOLULU (AP) — A high school prom in Hawaii where masked dancers weren’t allowed to touch. A return to virtual city council meetings in one Colorado town after the mayor and others tested positive following an in-person session. A reinstated mask mandate at skilled nursing facilities in Los Angeles County after 22 new outbreaks in a single week.

A COVID-19 surge is underway that is starting to cause disruptions as the school year wraps up and Americans prepare for summer vacations. Many people, though, have returned to their pre-pandemic routines and plans, which often involve travel.

Case counts are as high as they’ve been since mid-February and those figures are likely a major undercount because of unreported positive home test results and asymptomatic infections. Earlier this month, an influential modeling group at the University of Washington in Seattle estimated that only 13% of cases were being reported to U.S. health authorities.

Hospitalizations are also up and more than one-third of the U.S. population lives in areas that are considered at high risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Northeast has been hit the hardest.

Yet vaccinations have stagnated and elected officials nationwide seem loath to impose new restrictions on a public that’s ready to move on even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 1 million people less than 2 1/2 years into the outbreak.

“People probably are underestimating the prevalence of COVID,” said Crystal Watson, public health lead in the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security’s Coronavirus Resource Center. “I think there’s a lot more virus out there than we recognize, and so people are much, much more likely than they anticipate to be exposed and infected.”

A major metric for the pandemic — the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. — skyrocketed over the last two weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The figure was about 76,000 on May 9 and jumped to nearly 109,000 on Monday. That was the highest it had been since mid-February, when the omicron-fueled surge was winding down.

Deaths are still on the decline and hospital intensive care units aren’t swamped like they were at other times during the pandemic, likely because vaccinations and immunity from people who have already had the disease are keeping many cases less severe.

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“The nature of the disease has changed. Two years ago I was seeing a steady flow of bad pneumonia cases. Now we are in a situation where people should be able to avoid that outcome by taking advantage of vaccines, pre-exposure prophylaxis (for high risk), and early anti-viral therapy,” Dr. Jonathan Dworkin, a clinical infectious diseases physician in Hawaii, said by email.

In Hawaii, which once had one of the nation’s lowest rates of infection, hospitalization and death, new cases are surging among the state’s 1.4 million residents. The University of Hawaii will again require masks indoors across its 10-campus system beginning Wednesday.

With cases climbing for eight straight weeks, Hawaii has the second highest infection rate of any state, trailing only Rhode Island. But because positive home test results aren’t counted in official data, Hawaii’s health department estimates that the case count is actually five or six times higher.

Despite its surge, visitors have been flocking to Hawaii’s beaches, especially in recent months.

Yaling Fisher, owner of Hawaii Aloha Travel, said bookings to the islands haven’t slowed during the surge. On the contrary, they’ve increased.

“Even now we are still busy,” she said. “We don’t see any cancellations.”

Samantha Hanberg, who was in Hawaii this week with her newlywed husband, said the couple left their masks at home in California when they left for vacation. She said she contracted COVID-19 early in the pandemic and subsequently got fully vaccinated, so she too feels safe.

“Nobody wants to get sick, but it’s definitely not at the forefront of my thought process anymore,” she said, snacking on shave ice on Waikiki Beach. “I’m to the point now where I just I want to go back to living and enjoying life, and not being so worried.”

Officials initially shut down Hawaii’s tourism industry by requiring all incoming passengers to quarantine. They shifted to a testing requirement and then a vaccination exemption before dropping all restrictions in March.

Hawaii was the last state in the nation to drop its mask mandate, though it remains the only state to require all public school students to wear masks while indoors — a rule that will remain in effect throughout the summer and possibly into the next school year.

Nearly two years after California Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed the nation’s first statewide stay-home order, the state formally shifted to an “endemic” approach in February. Like Hawaii and many other states, its weekly infection rate has risen dramatically of late.

The new surge led the school districts in Pacific Grove and Berkeley to reinstate their indoor mask mandates, while an outbreak at a Northern California long-term healthcare facility had sickened at least 12 people by Friday.

Some Northeastern school districts have also revived their mask mandates, including those in Philadelphia and Providence, Rhode Island.

However New York, which was once the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, doesn’t seem likely to follow suit. The city is dealing with another surge in cases, but Mayor Eric Adams has all but ruled out bringing back a citywide mask mandate unless hospitals get inundated again.

The city’s school district jettisoned its practice of closing classrooms if multiple students test positive, merely recommends that masks be worn and even abandoned its requirement that students need to be vaccinated to attend prom.


Dazio reported from Los Angeles.


Find more of the AP’s pandemic coverage at

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Runway travel health: A new hub for understanding COVID requirements by country worldwide

Runway travel health: A new hub for understanding COVID requirements by country worldwide | Fortune

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Covid: Saudi announces fresh travel ban for India among 16 countries – News

Authority issues guidelines for citizens

Reuters file

Reuters file

By Web Desk

Published: Sun 22 May 2022, 2:07 PM

Last updated: Sun 22 May 2022, 2:30 PM

Saudi Arabia has announced a fresh travel ban on citizens for 16 countries due to Covid-19 cases in those countries, The General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) said on Saturday.

The list of countries include: Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Indonesia, Vietnam, Armenia, Belarus, and Venezuela.

The General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) emphasised that the validity of the passport for Saudis, who intend to travel to non-Arab countries, must be more than six months, Saudi Gazette reported.

According to the statement, the validity of the passport should be more than three months for travelling to Arab countries. As for citizens, who travel to other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, the validity of their national ID card must be more than three months.

The Jawazat reiterated that the soft copy of the national ID on Absher and Tawakkalna applications is not sufficient for travel to GCC states.

The original ID card and family registry must be produced for the travel in addition to a document of proof of dependents inside the Kingdom whose holders are unable to travel to the Gulf countries.

Regarding the health requirements for Saudis travelling outside the Kingdom, the Jawazat listed the following requirements:

– Received three doses of Covid-19 vaccine, with the third dose received after three months of taking the second dose

– Exemptions for those groups who have received a vaccine waiver on medical grounds as per the status on the Tawakkalna application

– Those under 16 and 12 require two doses of the vaccine


As for those who are under the age of 12, they are required to have a valid insurance policy against coronavirus while travelling.

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Summer travel tips as COVID restrictions ease

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Although some COVID restrictions have changed, it can be hard to know what the rules are when it comes to traveling.

8 News Now connected with an expert for a quick roundup of where things stand, and how to plan ahead.

Masks are not required on domestic flights, but some airports are still requiring them.

For those who prefer to wear a mask, passengers are still welcome to do so.

Lousson Smith is a specialist with Scott’s Cheap Flights and says his team members observed a third to half of the passengers masked on flights during the past week.

“If you are going to JFK, La Guardia, or LAX, they are still upholding those mandates,” Smith said.

For international flights, masks may be required, depending on the rules of the destination.

The best way to get clarity, check the website of the airports you’re traveling through and contact the airline if you’re not sure.

It’s a good idea to travel with an extra mask or two, just in case.

When it comes to COVID test-taking, the U.S. is one of the few countries requiring a negative COVID test to enter, even if you’re fully vaccinated.

“If you are going abroad and coming back, be mindful a day before that departure, you have to have a negative test,” Smith said. “The issue that people are facing, they forget, they are stranded in a foreign country, make sure you are remembering before you come back to the states.”

Many airline flights still have the options to be changed for free.

“All airlines are still waiving change fees for any tickets above basic economy, trade-off with basic economy price, don’t get the flexibility of other tickets,” he added.

If you have a trip booked that you know you don’t want to or can’t take, don’t cancel it and take the credit right away.

If the airline cancels it or significantly changes the schedule you’re entitled to a cash refund.

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Dodgers broadcast team won’t travel to upcoming away games due to positive COVID tests

The Dodgers announced Wednesday that their broadcast team will not be traveling to the upcoming away games in Philadelphia and Washington due to positive COVID cases.

The Dodgers released a statement saying, “Due to a few members of the Dodgers’ broadcast team having recently tested positive for COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, the Dodgers have decided not to travel their broadcasters to the upcoming games in Philadelphia and Washington.”

The team said the games will be broadcast from Los Angeles similar to how they were in 2020 and in 2021.

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Countries relaxing COVID travel restrictions


Countries across the globe are continuing to relax international travel restrictions related to COVID with the European Union dropping its mask mandate for air travelers starting next week.

And COVID travel warnings are being dropped, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month removed all the remaining countries on its “Do Not Travel” list.

“More and more people are once again traveling to destinations around the world and enjoying all that comes with travel,” the agency said Thursday in a statement shared by spokesperson Tom Skinner.

While many warnings and restrictions around the world have been relaxed, the CDC said that traveling can still increase the risk of exposure to the virus.

“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and CDC are working with the White House and other federal partners to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the American public while returning to more normal routines safely,” the CDC continued. “Travel requirements are made using the best available science.”

Mask rules: Where are masks still required now that the mask mandate has been lifted?

Canada: Is easing entry requirements for some international travelers

New Zealand opening up to all tourists by July

New Zealand will reopen its borders to tourists from all countries by July, allow back cruise ships and make it easier for skilled workers to immigrate as it looks outward to the world again following the COVID-19 pandemic, the government said Wednesday.

New Zealand has been slowly reopening, first to Australians last month and then to tourists from the U.S., Britain and more than 50 other countries earlier this month. Wednesday’s announcement will allow tourists from China, India and other countries to come starting July 31.

The government said it also planned to end the need for people to get predeparture COVID-19 tests by the end of July.

Post-pandemic travel: Is it OK to ask another passenger’s vaccine status or request they mask up?

The European Union: Is dropping its mask mandate for airplanes, airports starting next week

Israel to drop arrival testing requirement for US visitors

Starting May 20, all U.S. travelers arriving to Israel by plane will no longer have to take a PCR test upon arrival and will not have to quarantine. 

That said, pre-departure testing will remain a requirement as the ease in restrictions will allow for even more visitors to enjoy our country.

Laos reopens to international visitors after more than 2 years

The landlocked Southeast Asian nation of Laos reopened to tourists and other visitors on Monday, more than two years after it imposed tight restrictions to fight the coronavirus.

Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, head of the government’s agency for controlling COVID-19, announced on Saturday the reopening date, the last in a three-phase plan, state news agency KPL reported. She said vaccination certificates or virus tests will still be required for Lao citizens and foreigners entering the country.

Travelers 12 years of age or older without vaccination certificates must be able to show negative ATK tests taken within 48 hours of departure for Laos.

As part of the easing of restrictions, entertainment venues including karaoke parlors will be able to reopen, but must comply with COVID-19 control regulations. All border crossings were reopened.

Myanmar issuing tourist visas

Myanmar announced Thursday it will resume issuing visas for visitors in an effort to help its moribund tourism industry, devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and violent political unrest.

Starting on Sunday, tourist “e-Visas” will be provided online in a move also intended to harmonize tourism with neighboring countries, according to a government notice in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

Visitors need a certificate of vaccination, negative results from a COVID-19 RT-PCR test taken shortly before their flight and a travel insurance policy. They must also take an ATK rapid test after arrival.

Myanmar on April 1 had already resumed issuing business visas, and on April 17 dropped a ban on international commercial flights. It had stopped issuing visas and suspended flight arrivals in March 2020.

The Czech Republic eases all travel restrictions, too

Last month, the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Health eased travel protocols for international visitors and Czech citizens.

“There are no longer any coronavirus restrictions for entry into the Czech Republic,” CzechTourism said on its website April 14.

Jamaica relaxed some restrictions in April

Jamaica rolled back its COVID-19 entry restrictions in April with hoping that easier entry would attract more tourists. 

The Jamaica Tourist Board announced last month that the Caribbean island would drop its indoor mask mandate and its pre-departure PCR COVID-19 testing requirement starting.

Dreaming of a Caribbean getaway? Here are the COVID entry restrictions for popular islands

As you consider travel, consider any restrictions and recommendations

While you plan travel, even as restrictions easel the CDC recommends all travelers stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines and “follow all domestic and international travel requirements and recommendations.”

And, each week, the health agency updates its Travel Health Notices to alert travelers. 

In addition, CDC’s COVID-19 Travel Health Notices are updated each week to alert travelers of the COVID-19 situation in international destinations and advise them on how to protect themselves before, during, and after travel.

Contributing: Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY, and The Associated Press

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