The states are starting to reopen. But is it wise to venture out?
[Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article that originally ran on May 19.] Disclaimer: This is meant to be a general overview of how each state is reopening. It is not intended to provide every last detail regarding guidelines and restrictions; please refer to the government website of each state for specifics. In addition, please remember that even if a state has been given the green light for a category of businesses to reopen, individual businesses may choose to remain closed. As such, please be sure to contact each business or site before visiting to ensure that it is open. As the United States begins to relax its shelter-in-place orders and some emerge from their homes, many are counting the days when we can get back out there and travel, even if it’s by car to a neighboring community or state. But as we know, a very different landscape awaits out there than the one we left earlier this winter at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. There are things travelers must consider that we never did before, including social distancing and personal sanitization. The big question is: Is it safe to travel in the United States? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pretty clear in its stance. It’s recommended that you stay home as much as possible, especially if your trip is not essential. Social distancing still needs to be practiced, especially if you are in a higher risk category or an older adult. You shouldn’t travel if you feel sick, or travel with someone who is sick. And you need to protect yourself and others by knowing how to prevent the virus from spreading. Perhaps the most hopeful advice comes from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. According to him, summer travel “can be in the cards.” He urges caution, since we risk COVID-19 spreading rapidly if proper precautions are not taken. “When infections start to rear their heads again,” he says, “we have to put in place a very aggressive and effective way to identify, isolate, contact trace, and make sure we don’t have those spikes we have now.” As long as we’re aware that “getting back to normal is not like a light switch that you turn on and off,” he says, we should be able to get back to some sort of normalcy. So the answer is: We’re not quite there yet. The best thing to do is pay attention to the several-phase reopening plans that each state has developed, outlining when hotels, restaurants, retail businesses, outdoor areas, etc., should be open for business and what precautions they must take. Some states are freer than others—and that’s something to consider. Do you really want to be on a beach where social distancing guidelines aren’t being maintained? It’s a whole new world that we’ll be navigating, literally. The guidelines are fast-changing and it’s hard to keep up, but here’s where they stand today, state by state.