COVID-19 cases are surging across the country. Here’s what to consider as you decide whether to get tested and travel this holiday season.


With the holidays quickly approaching and COVID-19 cases rising, many states are taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of the virus from visitors to residents. 

Tennessee is considered a “high-risk” state to travel from in most parts of the country, so Tennesseans will have to review travel restrictions before seeing relatives for the holidays.

Knox News has compiled a state-by-state guide to make safe traveling easier this season. Here are the state travel restrictions as of Nov. 23 in alphabetical order.


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The strictest states

These states require proof of testing, mandatory quarantine, completion of health department forms or some combination of all three. Visitors can face fines in some states if they do not adhere to travel restrictions. 


Everyone visiting who is older than 10 must upload proof of a negative molecular-based SARS-CoV-2 test, a type of diagnostic test that detects the virus’s genetic material, to an online travel portal. Antibody tests do not qualify. Non-residents also are required to submit a travel declaration and self-isolation plan to the portal. Printed proof of a negative test taken no more than 72 hours prior to travel, a completed travel declaration and self-isolation are acceptable. 

If travelers tested within 72 hours before departure and are awaiting their results, they can enter Alaska and quarantine until negative results are uploaded. The state requests travelers take a second test five to 14 days after arriving in Alaska.

Visitors arriving without a previously taken test can get one for $250 and must self-quarantine while awaiting results, which may take three to five days or more. Testing is free for Alaska residents, who also have the option of a two-week quarantine instead of a test. Travelers pay their own quarantine costs.


People coming from Tennessee must self-quarantine for 14 days and fill out a mandatory health form if they plan to stay for more than 24 hours. Travelers can skip or shorten a quarantine period by providing proof of a negative PCR, or nasal swab, test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.

Visitors can take a test after arriving, but they must stay in isolation until written proof of negative results is sent to the Commissioner of Public Health by email at [email protected] or by fax at 860-326-0529.

These restrictions apply to anyone who has spent at least 24 hours in a high-risk area in the two weeks before their visit. Failure to comply with the order carries a fine of up to $500 per violation.

District of Columbia

Anyone visiting for more than 24 hours from a high-risk area, including Tennessee, must test negative for coronavirus no more than 72 hours before their arrival. People staying in D.C. for more than three days have to test again three to five days after arriving. A mask mandate is in effect for most activities and places. 


People visiting Hawaii for the holidays can avoid a mandatory 14-day quarantine by providing proof of a negative Nucleic Acid Amplification test, a type of diagnostic test, taken within 72 hours of the final leg of their trip. Travelers also have to pass temperature screening at the airport and fill out a travel and health declaration form.

Those whose test results are pending must quarantine for 14 days or until they obtain a negative result; whichever is shorter.

On top of a pre-travel test, some Hawaiian counties require travelers age 5 and older to test again after arrival. 

Hawaii County is randomly selecting about 25% of travelers for a free second test at the airport. Chosen visitors must stay at the airport while awaiting results, which usually take about 30 minutes. Maui and Kaua’i counties are asking travelers to take a voluntary second test 72 hours after arrival. The test is free in Maui County. In Kaua’i County, it is free for residents, but there is a $150 charge for visitors, which is offset by a gift certificate for the test cost. The certificate is valid at certain restaurants and attractions. There are additional restrictions for travel between counties. 

People violating state quarantine requirements face up to a $5,000 fine and up to a year in prison.


There are no statewide restrictions in Illinois, but under emergency travel order, Chicago has implemented a color-coded system to decide if visitors need to obtain negative coronavirus results or quarantine. Red, orange and yellow indicate virus levels in other states compared to the situation in Chicago. 

Tennessee is marked orange, meaning residents from the state are asked to stay home. If they visit, they can either quarantine for 14 days or show proof of a negative virus test no more than 72 hours before their arrival. 

A woman makes her way through the 30th Street Station ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, in Philadelphia. With the coronavirus surging out of control, the nation’s top public health agency pleaded with Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving and not to spend the holiday with people from outside their household. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) (Photo: Matt Slocum/AP)


All travelers must quarantine for 14 days or sign a document acknowledging they tested negative after taking a PCR (diagnostic) test or antigen (nasal swab) test with the last 72 hours. Those in quarantine can only leave the place they are staying for limited outdoor activities like hiking, when no one else is around.

The only exemption to testing is for those who are under the age of 18 and are traveling with adults who have recently tested negative for the virus. 


Anyone older than 10 must quarantine for 14 days or provide proof of a negative molecular PCR test taken within the past 72 hours. Those awaiting test results must quarantine until a negative result is received. All adults over the age of 18 or minors traveling alone who enter Massachusetts must fill out a travel form.

Those who do not follow the rules face fines of up to $500 per day.

New York

New York is allowing travelers to “test out” of its mandatory two-week quarantine with a series of tests and a shorter period of isolation.

People who have been out of the state for 24 hours or more must show a negative test result taken in the three days before their arrival. Then, they must quarantine for the first three days in New York. Another coronavirus test must be taken on the fourth day, and if it is negative, the person may leave quarantine. Those not wanting to take the tests must still quarantine for 14 days per Health Department regulations.

Visitors must fill out a Health Department traveler form. Visitors can be fined up to $10,000 for non-compliance. 


People traveling to Pennsylvania will have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before entering the state, or they must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

The state’s mask mandate is in effect for most people and places, even if you’re outside and physically distanced from others. 

Those who fail to comply with the travel restrictions could be fined up to $300.

Rhode Island

Tennesseans can choose to provide negative results from a test taken with the previous 72 hours or quarantine for two weeks. People who receive negative results during their quarantine can stop isolating, but the state recommends a full 14-day quarantine.

Visitors also must complete a certificate of compliance and an out-of-state travel screening form when they arrive in the state.


Visitors must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Those without any coronavirus symptoms may get a PCR test on or after the seventh day of their quarantine. If the result is negative, they are free to stop quarantining. 

Those traveling to Vermont in a personal or rental car or on a private plane can complete Vermont’s requirements in their home state and, assuming they limit stops on their way, enter Vermont without having to quarantine again. 

States taking caution against COVID-19

These states are asking visitors to be careful but do not have certain requirements and do not charge visitors fines. 


California is urging visitors to quarantine for 14 days. The state recommends travelers call ahead to learn about local restrictions that also might be in place.


Kansas requires everyone to quarantine for two weeks if they have attended an out-of-state gathering of 500 or more people where individuals did not wear masks and physically distance by six feet of if they were on a cruise ship or river cruise after March 15. 


Kentucky recommends a 14-day quarantine for those who have recently visited these states: Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.


Visitors are asked to get a virus test in the 72 hours before arriving in Maryland or upon arrival.


Minnesota recommends travelers quarantine for 14 days when entering the state.

New Hampshire

Tennesseans should quarantine for two weeks.

New Jersey

People visiting New Jersey for more than 24 hours are asked to quarantine for 14 days, even if they recently tested negative. Travelers who have spent more than 24 hours in other areas are also asked to complete an online survey providing details about where they have been and where they plan to stay.

New Mexico

All travelers, except those from Hawaii, must quarantine for 14 days.


Oregon is urging visitors to quarantine for 14 days. 

South Carolina

South Carolina recommends people who have traveled in the past two weeks to stay home as much as possible and watch for symptoms. 


Virginia is asking people who have traveled to areas of widespread coronavirus transmission or who participated in higher-risk activities like going to larger gatherings including sporting events, crowded restaurants, weddings or funerals or traveled on a cruise ship or river boat to take “extra precautions” to protect others for 14 days after arriving in the state. 


Washington is urging visitors to quarantine for 14 days. 

States where Tennesseans are free to travel

These states do not have statewide travel restrictions for Tennesseans as of Nov. 23. 

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado 
  • Delaware
  • Florida 
  • Georgia 
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi 
  • Missouri 
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota 
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma 
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • West Virginia 
  • Wisconsin 
  • Wyoming 

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