Crossing State Lines: Interstate Travel in New England During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Updated November 25
Quarantines Reinstated within New England amid Rising Case Numbers
Last updated November 25, 2020
Please note that location-based exemptions change often and without notice, so please be sure to check the listing for the states you plan to include in your travels.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its threat to public health from in-person contact, numerous states have instituted requirements or other guidance for travelers from out of state. After months of steady declines in requirements, recent increases in COVID-19 cases are leading many states to reinstate quarantines, even for other New England states. A summary for each state in New England is outlined below. Our state-by-state summary of business reopenings more generally throughout New England is available here, which includes recent rollbacks throughout the region. We also have a new alert regarding the area's suspension of interstate youth hockey.
Both the federal government and the states have the authority to impose quarantines and travel restrictions to protect the health, safety, and welfare of residents. While the authorities vary from state to state, violating such orders is generally a misdemeanor criminal offense. We note that the Department of Homeland Security has announced another extension of its limitation on travel between Canada and the U.S. at ports of entry along the US-Canada border, permitting only essential travel through December 21. Similarly, Canada continues to restrict entry into Canada from the U.S. to essential travel and immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
The CDC’s guidance on what to consider before traveling within the United States during the pandemic includes the following: whether you are traveling to a hotspot, whether where you live or your destination requires quarantine after traveling, and determining whether you live with someone who is vulnerable.
On October 27, Governor Ned Lamont issued Order 9I to amend certain sections of the state’s prior travel orders (Order 9C and 7III). Under the new order, implemented by the state’s public health travel advisory, “affected states” subject to the travel restrictions is now defined as states other than New York, New Jersey, or Rhode Island with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or higher than a 10% test positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average. “Affected Country” continues to cover international travelers entering from countries for which the CDC has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice. All such travelers must self-quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state or country. As of this update, exempt states include Rhode Island, (with other states in New England - Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire - now off the list), as well as Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. However, on October 20, Governor Lamont joined the governors of New York and New Jersey in urging residents to avoid unnecessary or non-essential travel in the tristate area, even though technically not subject to the quarantine requirements.
Alternatively, travelers are exempt from the quarantine requirement if they obtain a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to arriving in Connecticut in lieu of the 14-day quarantine only if they are unable to quarantine for the required 14 day period, but must have written proof of such a result. If the result of the test is still pending upon entry to the state, the traveler must quarantine until the negative result is obtained.
The Order applies to all travelers, including residents returning to Connecticut from an impacted state, and business and pleasure travelers. However, it does not apply to travelers coming into the state following only a layover or pass-through of less than 24 hours in an impacted state or country, and exempts essential workers provided the travel was work-related, although additional protocols for essential workers may be issued.
Travelers must complete a Travel Health Form prior to or upon arrival in the state. Failure to self-quarantine or complete the Travel Health Form may result in a civil penalty of $1,000 for each violation.
Order 9C also includes enforcement provisions, subjecting any traveler who refuses or fails to self-quarantine, submit a health travel form, or completes the form inaccurately to a civil penalty of $500 for each violation.
Unless one of the exemptions below applies, all travelers to Maine, including returning residents, must quarantine for 14 days. On June 8, Governor Mills announced via Order 57 the Keep Maine Healthy plan, which permits COVID-19 testing as an alternative to the 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers entering the state. Under the plan, adults who obtain and receive a negative COVID-19 test from a specimen taken no longer than 72 hours prior to arrival are not subject to the 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Maine. Visitors are encouraged to get tested and receive their test results in their home state before traveling to Maine. Any individual who chooses to be tested upon arrival in Maine must quarantine while awaiting the results. A list of test sites is available here.
Effective November 16, travelers from Massachusetts are no longer exempt from the state’s quarantine requirements, leaving New Hampshire and Vermont as the only exempt states. Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York were removed from the exempt list as of November 4. Notably, Maine residents who visit an exempted state are not required to quarantine upon returning to Maine. Essential workers are also exempt from testing and quarantine requirements if they are traveling to Maine to perform essential work, or are from Maine and are traveling out-of-state for work and returning home.
Travelers who are not residents of Maine or exempted states will be asked to sign a Certificate of Compliance indicating that they have received a negative COVID-19 test result, that they will quarantine in Maine for 14 days, or that they have already completed their quarantine in Maine. This compliance form must be provided to check in at all Maine lodging, campgrounds, seasonal rentals, overnight camps, and other commercial lodging, such as Airbnb. Visitors may be asked to furnish proof of the negative test result upon request. Our detailed discussion of the plan is available here.
Enforcement of the state’s travel restrictions is pursuant to 37-B M.R.S. §786(1), which permits violators to be charged with a Class E crime that includes punishment of up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, and the payment of civil damages to the State for its costs associated with testing, investigating, contact tracing, and otherwise determining the extent of COVID-19 transmission.
Effective August 1, Order 45 requires all out of state (and international) travelers entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, to quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 result from a test administered within 72 hours prior to arrival in the state. If results from a test taken within 72 hours of arrival are not obtained by the time of arrival, the traveler must quarantine until the negative result is received. If traveling for less than 72 hours, the test cannot have been administered prior to leaving the state, and must be administered upon return. If traveling with children under 10 years of age, the child does not need a COVID-19 test; children over 11 years of age either need to be tested or quarantine for 14 days unless another exemption applies. All entrants not meeting one of the exemptions below are also required to complete a Travel Form. Additional guidance is available here.
Travelers from “low risk” states are exempt from these requirements. A state is considered low risk if it has an average of fewer than 10 daily cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate below 5%, both measured as a 7-day rolling average. As of this update, exempt states include only Vermont and Hawaii. Also exempt are commuters, patients seeking or receiving medical treatment, military personnel, and workers providing critical infrastructure services. Please refer to our alert on this order for more information.
Failure to comply with this order may result in a $500 fine per day.
Effective November 15, Order 72 requires all travelers entering New Hampshire to adhere to the travel-related provisions in the Universal Guidelines. Guidance from NH Public Health Services clarifies that anyone entering the state, including returning residents, must self-quarantine for 14 days following the last date of any high-risk travel. High risk travel includes any travel internationally (including to/from Canada); on a cruise ship or domestic travel outside of New England (Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island) for non-essential purposes.
Essential travel includes travel for work, school, personal safety, medical care, care of others, parental shared custody, for medication, and for food or beverage (brief trips for take-out and groceries only). Essential travel also includes travel for students and their parents or guardians who are visiting institutions of higher learning or preparatory high schools as potential future students, including allowing the students to remain at the schools for overnight stays.
Travelers are permitted to quarantine for the 14 days prior to their travel to New Hampshire so long as their travel to New Hampshire is via personal vehicle; otherwise, the quarantine must be in state. A traveler may end the quarantine by receiving a negative COVID test after 7 days of quarantine, provided the person is also asymptomatic. This “test-out” exemption does not apply to persons quarantining due to close contact exposure to a person with COVID-19.
Under prior executive orders, the penalties for violating emergency rules and regulations related to the coronavirus in New Hampshire are generally $1,000 for each violation or each day a violation continues.
Rhode Island continues Phase 3 of its reopening via Order 20-90. The order keeps in place the 14-day quarantine requirement for international travel into Rhode Island and for cross-border travel for non-work-related purpose from states with high community spread, states with a COVID-19 positivity rate over 5%. Order 90 notes that the criteria for defining and restricting travel from states with high community spread was done in coordination with Connecticut to permit free travel between the two states. As of this update, the only states not considered hotspots are those in New England, as well as Hawaii, and New York.
However, travelers from these hotspots, as an alternative to quarantine, may provide proof of a negative test for COVID-19 taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Rhode Island. Visitors must quarantine while waiting for test results, and may only end the quarantine if a negative result is obtained. Upon arrival, visitors subject to these requirements must complete a certificate of compliance and an out-of-state travel screening form.
These self-quarantine and testing requirements do not apply to public health, public safety or healthcare workers, people traveling for medical treatment, to attend funeral or memorial services, to obtain necessities such as groceries, gas or medication, to drop off or pick up children from day care, summer camps, or to anyone who must work on their boats. Order 91 extends Rhode Island’s quarantine order for those exposed to COVID (Order 20-71) through December 3.
Effective November 10, Vermont has implemented a mandatory quarantine for anyone returning or traveling to Vermont. Residents returning to the state must complete either 14-day quarantine or a 7-day quarantine followed by a negative COVID test. Effective November 14, all students returning home from a college or university, in-state or out of state, must either (1) quarantine at home for fourteen days, with a test for COVID-19 strongly encouraged, or (2) quarantine for a minimum of 7 days followed by a negative COVID test.
Non-resident travelers entering Vermont in a personal vehicle must complete either (1) a 14-day quarantine or (2) a 7-day quarantine followed by a negative test in their home state and enter Vermont without further quarantine restrictions. Travelers arriving to Vermont who have not completed a pre-arrival quarantine (ie those traveling via public transportation or from further than a direct car ride) may complete either (1) a 14-day quarantine or (2) a 7-day quarantine followed by a negative test in a Vermont lodging establishment or with friends and family, although travelers must stay in their quarantine location for the duration of quarantine other than to travel to and from a test site. Note that as part of Vermont’s suspension on social gatherings between multiple households, travelers may not gather with another household in the state even after completing a quarantine.
All previous exemptions to quarantine requirements still apply, including those for people traveling for essential purposes. Essential travel includes travel for personal safety, medical care, care of others, parental shared custody, for food, beverage or medicine, to perform work for businesses that are currently allowed to operate, or to attend pre K-12 school and college if commuting daily. Individuals engaged in a daily commute to and from their place of employment are also exempt from quarantine requirement.