Here's What the CDC Recommends for Holiday Travel

This is the final word...for now

Passengers lined up at the airport to check in their luggage.
Lu ShaoJi / Getty Images

With the U.S. seeing an average of approximately 118,000 COVID-19 cases per day and the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimating that 6.4 million Americans will fly between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, those with holiday travel on the horizon might be given pause. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) says that vaccinated travelers—and in particular those who are boosted—can "feel comfortable enjoying the holiday."

"You're going to have to wear a mask on the plane anyway—that's a regulation," the president's chief medical advisor told CNN on Wednesday. "But be prudent and careful. When you go to the airport particularly, that's an indoor congregate setting, you don't know the vaccination status of people around you. Then wear a mask—that's the CDC recommendation. I believe if people follow the recommendations of the CDC about indoor masking, take the advice of getting vaccinated and getting boosted, we should be fine for the holidays, and we should enjoy it with our family and our friends."

To erase any confusion regarding travel in the pandemic era, the CDC has continuously updated its overall domestic travel guidelines throughout the fall. If you plan to travel within the United States any time soon, you should read the guidelines in full, but here's a quick summary.

  1. Don't travel unless you're fully vaccinated.
  2. Don't travel if you have been exposed to COVID-19, have tested positive for COVID-19, or are feeling sick.
  3. Check your destination's COVID-19 situation before traveling, as state and local governments may have travel restrictions such as proof of vaccination or mask-wearing.
  4. If you're not fully vaccinated but need to travel, you should get tested one to three days before and after travel.
  5. Regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask on public transportation and in transportation hubs like airports and train or bus stations. (This is a requirement, not a recommendation.)

In October, Fauci had made comments that seemed to suggest that Americans might not be able to spend the holidays with their families this year. But he later appeared on CNN to clarify his statements.

"I was asked what could we predict for this winter, for like December and Christmas. I said we'll hold off on that. I said we don't know because we've seen slopes that went down and then came back up," said Fauci. "That was misinterpreted as my saying we can't spend Christmas with our families, which was absolutely not the case. I will be spending Christmas with my family. I encourage people, particularly the vaccinated people who are protected, to have a good, normal Christmas with your family."

Fauci's most recent appearance on CNN follows President Joe Biden's latest announcement regarding stricter travel protocols and COVID-19 restrictions. As part of the Biden-Harris Administration's nine-part plan to fight the pandemic, all air passengers ages two and up are required to provide a negative COVID test taken within one day of departure. Plus, the federal masking mandate—whereby face masks must be worn on aircraft, trains, public transit, and at transportation hubs—has been extended through March 18, 2022.

Article Sources
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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Trends in Number of COVID-19 Cases and Deaths in the US Reported to CDC, by State/Territory." December 14, 2021.

  2. American Automobile Association. "'Tis the Season: More Than 109 Million Americans to Travel for the Holidays." December 14, 2021.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Domestic Travel During COVID-19." Nov. 12, 2021