Traveling during COVID-19
Posted on 12/23/2020


What should I know before I plan to travel?

On November 13, 2020, Governor Inslee released a COVID-19 Travel Advisory for non-essential travel. Everyone is encouraged to stay home or in their region and avoid non-essential travel to other states or countries.

People arriving in Washington from other states or countries, including returning Washington residents, should self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. Interactions should be limited to immediate family members. The advisory applies to all forms of non-essential travel including travel by air or car.

Even after the advisory is lifted, Public Health strongly advises residents to limit non-essential travel to avoid another partial shutdown.

On December 22, 2020, Governor Inslee issued a proclamation with travel restrictions for anyone coming from a country where SARS-CoV-2 variant 501Y.V is circulating as listed on the DOH site; unless they quarantine for 14 days once inside Washington. See the full proclamation

Additionally, people who enter Washington after travel to the U.K. or South Africa should get tested if they develop symptoms. If no symptoms develop, they should get tested five to seven days after leaving the U.K. or South Africa

How long should I wait to get tested if I think I’ve been exposed to the coronavirus?

We recommend waiting a minimum of 5 days after your potential exposure to get tested. It typically takes 5-7 days after exposure for the test to report more accurate test results.

If you have any symptoms, get tested as soon as you can. If you can’t determine the exact moment when you were exposed or you were exposed over a longer period of time, then get tested as soon as you can. If possible, avoid getting tested any earlier than 3 days after your potential exposure to prevent a false negative result.

If you test positive after a gathering, contact your relatives and family to know them you have tested positive and/or cooperate with contact tracers so you can get resources, if needed, and so others cann be notified of their risk.


If I have to conduct essential travel, what steps should I take to reduce my chances of getting sick or getting someone else sick?

Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. You should not travel if you are sick or have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. If you must travel:

 What is the risk of getting COVID-19 on an airplane?


  • Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet from anyone who is not from your household.
  • Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when in public settings, including on public transportation and in transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick and don’t travel with someone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • The safest food options are drive-thru, delivery, take-out, and curbside pick-up.
  • Make sure you are up to date with your routine vaccinations, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine.
  • Follow Washington state guidance after you return from travel. 

Traveling by plane is a high-risk activity because of the time you are required to spend inside airports: in security lines and airport terminals. This time indoors around many people bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces.

While the air is well filtered on airplanes, the risk of getting COVID-19 is still increased because it is difficult to maintain social distance. You are very likely to sit within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours. This may increase your risk for exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19, especially if they are not wearing a mask correctly.

There is a recent story circulating where an individual attested to not having tested positive to COVID-19 or having symptoms, but they traveled anyway and passed away on the plane. Many flyers have since starting having COVID-19 symptoms, including the EMT who performed compressions on him. Some have since tested positive.

Are travelers being screened at the airport?

Travelers are not currently screened at the airport. In September 2020, the United States removed requirements to direct certain international flights to designated airports for screening.

However, on November 13, 2020, Governor Inslee released a COVID-19 Travel Advisory for non-essential travel for all residents of Washington. CDC also recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel.

Here is more information on Pasco (PSC) airport and SeaTac.

How do I meet the travel requirements for Hawaii?

Travel Requirements

COVID-19 State of Hawaii Portal

Mandatory State of HI Travel and Health Form

Pre-Travel Testing Required to Avoid 14-day Quarantine

Hawaii only accepts test results from preferred labs. Our CBC and HAPO Center community test sites both used approved labs for Hawaii travel. Results within 3 days.

For more information about travel from the our counties, visit our website at:

For more information about traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit the CDC’s guidance for travelers:  

For international travel, please visit the Department of State’s guidance:

For more information or answers about testing, please visit our COVID-19 testing page: