COVID-19 Information for Travelers
Latest Guidance At A Glance
- The Secretary of Health issued an order requiring anyone who visits from another state to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entering the commonwealth.
- If someone cannot get a test or chooses not to, they must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Pennsylvania.
- Pennsylvanians visiting other states are required to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to their return to the commonwealth, or to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania. This does NOT apply to people who commute to and from another state for work or medical treatment.
- This order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday, November 20.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is this a recommendation or requirement?
This is a requirement. The order is an enforceable disease control measure authorized by the Disease Prevention and Control Law.
Why are testing or quarantine being required?
Testing provides a way for individuals to know their COVID-19 status, and to allow them to avoid bringing the virus with them into the Commonwealth. This is important especially as we enter the holiday season and consider visiting loved ones who may be more vulnerable to the devastating effects of the disease. Recognizing that an individual may not have their test results before travelling, quarantine is intended to serve that same purpose, to prevent the spread of the disease.
Do I have to quarantine after I travel out of state?
Completing a 14-day quarantine after traveling outside of Pennsylvania is required if an individual does not have proof of a negative test result. As case numbers increase nationwide, persons traveling to Pennsylvania or returning to Pennsylvania after travelling out of state risk bringing COVID-19 into the state and potentially infecting others. Individuals should stay in their quarantine location for the full 14 days and avoid physically interacting with anyone, including those in their household. If individuals do not want to quarantine, they can be tested in the 72 hours prior to entering Pennsylvania; if they have a negative test result, they will not have to quarantine. Additionally, quarantine is not required for individuals who travel routinely for work or other critical purposes, such as medical appointments or to comply with a court order such as custody exchanges.
If I am under a mandatory quarantine, what am I allowed to do?
Individuals who are required to quarantine may temporarily leave in order to receive testing or other necessary medical services.
Does the Order apply to people traveling to Pennsylvania from another country or state as well as people who live in Pennsylvania returning from a trip from another country or state?
Yes, this requirement applies to both out-of-state visitors to Pennsylvania and to Pennsylvanians coming back from a trip to another country or state.
What does the order require?
Anyone who visits Pennsylvania from another state, including Pennsylvanians returning to the commonwealth, must get tested within 72 hours prior to entering the commonwealth. If an individual is unable to get a test, is waiting for test results, or chooses not to get a test, they must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in our state. Visitors should stay in their quarantine location for the full 14 days prior to interacting with anyone outside their travel group or household.
If I am awaiting my test result, am I permitted to still enter Pennsylvania?
Yes, you are still permitted to enter Pennsylvania if awaiting your test result. However, you are required to quarantine for 14 days prior to interacting with anyone outside your travel group or household.
Does the Order distinguish between work-related travel and personal travel?
Yes. Travel between home and work or home and medical appointments in other states is permitted. The travel exemptions are:
- Individuals traveling to and from the commonwealth for work
- Individuals traveling to and from the commonwealth for medical reasons (including providing comfort and support to a patient)
- Military personnel traveling to the commonwealth by order or directive of a state or Federal military authority
- Individuals in transit through the commonwealth to another destination, provided that the time spent in the commonwealth is only the amount of time necessary to complete the transit, make use of travel services, such as a highway rest stop, or make necessary travel connections
Why are there not specific states anymore? Why must travel to or from any state result in a quarantine?
COVID-19 case counts in ALL states are now increasing significantly. This causes an increased risk of spreading COVID-19 when residents travel outside the state or visitors travel into the state. Because of this increased risk nationwide, a negative test result or quarantine for all travel from out of state is now required.
How should businesses implement these recommendations? Can employers require employees returning from other countries or states to stay out of work for 14 days?
The commonwealth does not dictate how businesses should implement the testing or quarantine requirement.
What is considered travel to another state? What if I’m just passing through or stopping for fuel? Travel to another state occurs any time a person crosses into another state via air travel, public transit, personal vehicle, ride shares or taxis, and interacts with individuals in the other state. There is an exception in the order for individuals travelling through the commonwealth in transit to another destination, provided that the time spent in the commonwealth is only the amount of time necessary to complete the transit, make use of travel services, such as a highway rest stop, or make necessary travel connections. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that making stops along the way for gas, food, or bathroom breaks can put you and your traveling companions in close contact with other people and surfaces. While the Order does not require persons to test or quarantine if they are travelling through the state, or travelling into the state for purposes of making connections for additional travel, this does not mean a person should not consider obtaining a test or quarantining under these circumstances.
If I am going to a remote area and, after arrival, I do not leave the property, do I still have to have a negative test or quarantine upon my return to Pennsylvania? Yes, because of the increased level of transmission nationwide, the risk involved in any travel is increasing, and individuals should have a negative test result or quarantine.
Is everyone required to be tested or quarantine, even if they are asymptomatic?
If an individual who intends to travel shows no symptoms, they are still required to obtain a negative test from a specimen collected within 72 hours prior to entering the commonwealth. If they do not have a test result prior to entering the Commonwealth, they are required to remain at their destination and apart from other persons, except those with whom they have traveled, until they receive their test results. If the test result is negative, they may resume their travel activities. If the test result is positive for COVID-19, they must isolate, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not.
How is this order enforced? The order is enforceable as a disease control measure under the Disease Prevention and Control Law. The Administration continues to encourage compliance, and expects that, since all people are affected by this virus, everyone will do their utmost to comply. Persons who fail to comply with the Order may be fined between $25 and $300 dollars.
If a spouse or family member has returned from another state, must a non-traveling household member remain in a “travel” quarantine? The order applies to those persons who are travelling or have traveled. However, if the individual who is awaiting test results develops any signs or symptoms or has a positive test result, their close contacts, including household members, should quarantine.