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What United States visitors need to know about coronavirus

Consider getting the full experience of traveling the US at a later date.

The United States is limiting travel for people from certain countries, as is the case with many countries because of the coronavirus. To enter from a high-risk area, you need to meet several criteria and likely undergo quarantine before you can travel through the country. Even then, consider the social distancing, store closures and limited medical coverage you might experience during your trip.

Can I travel to the US during the coronavirus outbreak?

The United States may allow travelers from other countries, as long as you’re not coming from a high-risk area. For specific countries including the ones listed below, the President has issued statements limiting travel for people who aren’t US citizens. You can find updates about which countries are restricted due to the coronavirus from the US Department of State.

Some of the areas restricted, as of June 25, 2020, include:

  • Brazil
  • China
  • Iran
  • Most European countries
  • United Kingdom and Ireland

Who can enter the US from another country?

Most people coming from high-risk countries won’t be allowed in the United States. However, you can contact the US embassy in your country if you have questions about your travel plans. What to expect based on your citizenship status:

  • Citizens from other countries. If you’re a citizen from a country listed as high risk by the US State Department, you probably won’t be allowed to enter the United States. However, you may be granted entry if you’re a citizen from a low-risk country.
  • US citizens and family of US citizens. If you’re a US citizen, work for the military or government or have immediate family with US citizenship, you may be allowed to cross the border. This includes US citizens and can include family members of US citizens from high-risk countries.
  • Students abroad. Students coming from high-risk countries probably won’t be allowed to enter the US. International students already in the US may be encouraged to return home by their university or organization. Otherwise, students may be allowed into the country if they meet the entry criteria, such as having the proper student visa.

Requirements for travelers from high-risk countries

If you’re allowed into the US from a high-risk country, you can expect special instructions from a government or health official. You might need to:

  • Get routed to specific airports. Your flight may get directed to one of 15 designated airports equipped for health screening for the coronavirus.
  • Undergo health screening. Trained staff may ask questions about your travel, medical history and contact details for your local health officials.
  • Quarantine at home. If you don’t have symptoms, you’ll be asked to self-quarantine by following current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at your host’s home or arranged lodging.
  • Get medical care for symptoms. If you have symptoms, staff will give you written instructions on your next steps and direct you to your destination.

How does self-quarantine work for US visitors?

Self-quarantine means you won’t leave your house or hotel room, except for medical care. You also need to practice social distancing from other people inside the house or hotel. Advice to follow:

  • Stay in a room isolated from other people in your residence. Use a separate bathroom if possible, especially with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Keep a six-foot distance, or two meters, away from other people.
  • Watch for symptoms, including taking your temperature twice a day in case you get a fever.
  • You may need to order food and essentials online and have them delivered to you.
  • If you had scheduled other accommodations, you may need to move the dates or ask for a refund.

How does travel insurance cover my trip to the US?

Many policies exclude travel coverage for epidemics, pandemics or any foreseeable event. Most companies recognized the coronavirus as a known event between January 22 to January 24, 2020.

However, if you bought travel insurance before COVID-19 became a known health event, you may have coverage. In addition, some companies are allowing coronavirus claims under certain types of coverage or specialized policies.

A quick rundown of how you may be covered:

  • Medical emergencies. You may get coverage if your insurer makes an exception for the coronavirus.
  • Trip cancellation or interruption. Typically no coverage after the coronavirus became a known event, even if your airline cancels your flight. Some insurers offer coverage if you catch the coronavirus.
  • Trip delay. This coverage isn’t typically available for trips after the coronavirus became a known event.
  • Lost, stolen or delayed baggage. This benefit shouldn’t be affected by the coronavirus.
  • Coronavirus policies. Insurance companies are starting to offer policies with specific coverage for coronavirus medical claims.

Can I get medical coverage for the coronavirus in the US?

In order to get medical coverage for the coronavirus, you need a travel or health insurance policy that covers the illness abroad. It’s unlikely you’ll get travel coverage for policies bought after the virus became a known event, unless you buy a policy that covers the coronavirus specifically. And your individual health insurance may or may not cover international medical expenses.

The US healthcare marketplace only extends coverage to US citizens or legal permanent residents. If you can’t find coverage through your own health or travel policy, reconsider traveling to the US during the coronavirus outbreak. Many travel carriers and insurance companies are letting customers reschedule travel without change fees.

Compare travel insurance quotes

Name Product Trip Cancellation Emergency Medical Expenses Baggage Coverage Trip Delay
Travelex Travel Basic
Essential travel coverage — with the option to customize — that can protect the cost of your trip.
Travelex Flight Insure
Protect the cost of your flight and choose the coverage amount that meets your needs — trip delay protection included.
RoamRight Essential Travel Insurance Plan
Basic policy with coverage that includes trip cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance and baggage insurance.
Travel Guard Silver
Budget-friendly coverage with basic travel protections that include trip cancellation and trip interruption.

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Can I return home during the coronavirus outbreak?

Most likely, yes. The US government encourages non-US citizens to return to their home country since getting medical care abroad can get complicated. However, you may need to meet new entry requirements for your home country that factor in coronavirus safety measures.

For example, you may need health screening and a 14-day quarantine to make sure you haven’t contracted the coronavirus. You can contact your country’s embassy in the US or search for entry requirements on the US Department of State website.

Also, be prepared for last-minute flight cancellations or new travel measures put in place by the US or your home country’s government. Many travelers have experienced delays in getting home due to the changing landscape of travel from the coronavirus. For countries that aren’t allowing new entrants, check with your embassy or government website for the most updated info and steps on how to get entry permission.

What precautions should I take for the coronavirus while in the US?

If you’re continuing your travel in the US, consider taking as many precautions as possible to prevent you from contracting the coronavirus. Precautions recommended by the CDC include:

  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds or use sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Practice social distancing: staying 6 feet or 2 meters away from other people, especially if they’re sick.
  • Wear a cloth face mask to protect other people in case you’re infected unknowingly.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes, then wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects you touch daily.
  • Call medical care if you start noticing coronavirus symptoms: cough, fever or shortness of breath.

In addition to these CDC recommendations, consider limiting your travel to public places or using public transportation even if you’re not sick. If you become ill, avoid public areas entirely.

Bottom line

You may pass the entry requirements if you’re coming from a country not seeing widespread cases of the coronavirus. However, you can expect specific requirements and quarantine if you’re coming from a country considered high-risk by the CDC or Department of State.

Consider rebooking your travel for a later date with travel insurance coverage, so you can enjoy the full benefits of trip protection.

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