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Oct. 7, 2022, 12:29 p.m. EDT

With COVID restrictions relaxed, can you go back to traveling like you used to?

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By Sally French

This is reprinted by permission from

About two and a half years into the pandemic, you might be wearing masks less often and traveling more often than you did last year. Most countries have lifted the restrictions that prevented international travel.

In an August brief, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the pandemic has moved into “a different phase,” pointing to lower disease severity. The CDC also released newly relaxed guidelines that may have a big impact on how people think about the health risks related to travel.

“There is generally less risk of severe illness as a result of COVID-19 due to the resources we have available to reduce symptoms, like vaccinations, medications, and boosters,” says Dr. Janice Johnston, chief medical officer and co-founder of Redirect Health, a health care company offering an alternative to insurance.

So does that mean you can go back to traveling like you used to, with no worries about COVID-19? Only you can assess your risk tolerance, and it likely depends on your pre-existing conditions and the nature of your trip.

Read : 1 in 5 of Americans don’t know about new omicron-targeting COVID boosters, survey finds

What the CDC guidelines say now

The CDC updated its guidelines regarding COVID-19 in August. Among the biggest changes:

  • Eliminating quarantining after exposure:  The CDC no longer recommends that you quarantine if you’ve been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19, even if you’re unvaccinated.

  • Reducing isolation periods:  If you test positive, the CDC says it’s safe for you to end isolation after five days (even if you still test positive), as long as you’ve been fever-free for at least 24 hours and symptoms are improving. Mask-wearing is still recommended through day 10.

Reduced isolation periods — as well as the end of quarantine recommendations for people who have been exposed to COVID-19 — make it less likely that you’d have to cancel a planned trip just because your coworker got sick the day before your departure.

It also cuts back on the likelihood that you’ll have to cancel a trip if you catch COVID–19 a couple of weeks before you leave.

Related: Canada to scrap mask mandate on planes, joining Japan, Hong Kong and U.A.E. in lifting COVID restrictions

How to think about international travel

In June, the CDC rescinded the requirement for travelers to show a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 to board any U.S-bound aircraft from a foreign country.

That said, all non-immigrant, non-U.S. citizen air travelers are still required to be fully vaccinated — with proof — prior to boarding an airplane to the U.S.

Sure, there is still some risk of being exposed to COVID-19 abroad. But if you do test positive in a foreign country, the reduction of the 10-day isolation period to five also cuts down on the extra time you may need to spend in isolation abroad.

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