HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) – Anyone traveling by air into the U.S. now needs to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 3 days.

a person standing next to a bag of luggage: New CDC Travel rules

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New CDC Travel rules

Beginning Jan. 26, the CDC required travelers to show their negative result to the airline before they board their flight, or be prepared to show documentation of recovery, like proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel.


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Once you return home, the CDC recommends getting tested 3 to 5 days after travel and stay home for 7 days. Even if you test negative, they suggest staying home for the full 7 days.

“With the vaccines rolling out, AAA really is seeing a little bit of an uptick in people who are starting to dream… Starting to think about what travel will look like when they’re ready to travel again,” Martha Meade, with AAA Mid-Atlantic, said.

Those 65 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1b, which Terrie Dean, the co-owner of The Wishing Well in Harrisonburg, said is drawing a more mature audience to travel, but after the announcement of new regulations, she said many clients were not interested in traveling anymore.

“We immediately had blanket cancellations. Immediately,” Dean said. “This is an industry right now that is wrought with one step forward, three steps back.”

If you are interested in traveling, Meade suggests staying as flexible as possible and know the risk.

“Travel agents are advising folks to know all of their cancelation penalties, all of their cancellation options and rebooking options, and just exactly what travel insurance will or will not cover,” Meade said.

Along with planning a flexible trip, both Meade and Dean suggest reaching out to travel experts.

“Somebody who’s trained and who knows where to go. [They have] all the right tools in their toolbox to know how to navigate through this,” Dean said. “If you don’t, you could be making one of the biggest mistakes ever with a large purchase.”

Dean also mentioned that the CDC is currently considering mandatory COVID-19 testing on domestic flights, which several U.S. airline presidents and CEOs have said they do not support.

“We’re talking about crippling an industry if people have to take COVID-19 tests,” Dean said. “The issue is people will be purchasing airline tickets and if they get to the airport and test positive, now they’ve got another whole set of challenges.”

For more information on COVID-19 travel, click here.

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