Here's What the CDC (Really) Recommends for Holiday Travel

Communication flubs have caused confusion, but this is the final word...for now

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

Another day, another round of confusion regarding coronavirus policies. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published guidelines for holiday gatherings, which advised to keep celebrations virtual or outdoors and socially distant this year, just like last year. But the CDC has since backtracked, pulling the recommendations off their site and announcing they were published in error.

"The guidance on that page was outdated holiday guidance. The page had a technical update on Friday but doesn't reflect the CDC's guidance ahead of this upcoming holiday season," a CDC spokesperson told FOX TV stations

Adding to the mess, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and chief medical advisor to the president, made comments over the weekend 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."

All this confusion prompted the CDC to update its overall domestic travel guidelines on Monday to provide clarification. 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. Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to get tested or quarantine before or after travel.
  3. If you're not fully vaccinated but need to travel, you should get tested 1–3 days before and after travel, avoid crowds and stay socially distant, and quarantine for seven days after travel.
  4. 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.)

Though these new CDC travel guidelines don't specifically mention the holidays, they'll likely remain in place throughout the holiday season—and as for holiday gatherings, specifically, Fauci says activities can resume as normal. "I will be spending Christmas with my family," he told CNN. "I encourage people, particularly the vaccinated people who are protected, to have a good, normal Christmas with your family."

Article Sources
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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Domestic Travel During COVID-19." Oct. 4, 2021

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