Quarantine Rules for Disney World Travelers

Quarantine rules & travel restrictions to Florida from many states apply to visitors returning home from Walt Disney World. This covers reopening timelines, international travel ban rules, 14-day self-isolation mandates & recommendations, updates on case numbers, and the new option to “test out” of quarantines. (Updated December 3, 2020.)

Let’s start with the good news: the Centers for Disease Control has shortened its recommended quarantine period, which was previously 14 days. Now, based on local circumstances and resources, the following options to shorten quarantine are acceptable alternatives.

First, quarantine can end after day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Alternatively, if testing resources are sufficient and available, then quarantine can end after day 7 with a negative test and no symptoms during daily monitoring…

As with all health safety protocol, the shorter quarantine period is not 100% effective, but literally nothing is–it’s all about risk mitigation. With this modification, the CDC estimates that those who might have been exposed reduce the likelihood of further transmission to only 5-12%. CDC indicates that the previous 14-day recommendation was based on estimates of the upper bounds of the incubation period.

This balances a reduced burden against a small possibility of increasing spread, while also potentially increasing compliance. The second part of CDC’s modification is actually in line with what some states have already implemented as a “test out” option. Our expectation is that many more states shorten their travel quarantine rules and recommendations in accordance with this new CDC guidance.

For its part, Florida does not have any quarantine requirements, travel bans, or restrictions in place for those arriving from other states. Governor Ron DeStantis issued a series of executive orders rescinding all of these, most notably the Tri-State Area 14-day quarantine for those coming to Florida from New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

It’s unlikely that Florida will enact new quarantine rules, recommendations, or travel bans going forward. In this week’s press conference, Governor DeSantis said that a statewide mask mandate, lockdowns, or school closures are all off the table in Florida despite an increase in new cases, positivity rates, and cases per 100,000 people.

Florida’s positivity rate ranges from around 6.2% to 9.4% depending upon how it’s calculated. Johns Hopkins University, which has become the nationwide aggregating standard, recently changed its positivity calculation and now puts Florida’s positivity rate at 8%. Additionally, Florida now has averaged 30.4 daily new cases per 100,000 people as of the first week of December 2020.

All of these numbers are on the rise, pushing Florida into the White House Task Force’s “red zone” along with most of the United States. Numbers will likely increase through the end of 2020 due to a post-Thanksgiving bump by mid-December, plus holiday gatherings after that.

If there’s a silver lining there, it’s that numbers haven’t increased more. That’s actually promising given that Florida fully reopened over two months ago. Additionally, with Florida’s weather getting nicer during the winter months, the state should benefit from more people opting outdoors–the reverse of what’s happening in the Midwest and Great Plains.

However, even with more activities moving outdoors in Florida where transmission is less likely, there is still cause for concern. The after-effects of Thanksgiving could cause another increase in the next couple of weeks. Following that, many families (including those in Florida) will hold indoor Christmas gatherings with people from different locations traveling and commingling. Finally, skyrocketing numbers elsewhere could result in those states to reinstate or institute new quarantine restrictions.

Many states have quarantine rules in effect for residents returning from Florida or visiting from out of state. Here’s a rundown of quarantine rules for various states and cities…

As part of “Dial Back, Minnesota” all residents of that state are asked to stay home for four weeks. Out-of-state travel is highly discouraged. Incoming visitors and Minnesotans who travel out-of-state are asked to stay home and quarantine for 14 days.

California‘s Department of Public Health has issued a travel advisory for all persons arriving to California from other states or countries, including returning California residents, with a recommendation to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Additionally, some counties in both Southern and Northern California have elevated this from a recommendation to a mandatory requirement, so check your local department of health before and after traveling.

Kansas has updated its quarantine requirement for Florida and all other domestic destinations. Anyone who attended a mass gathering of more than 500 people is requested to quarantine for 14 days upon returning to the state. Previously, our interpretation of this rule was that it did not apply to Walt Disney World. The language has been broadened and it now definitely applies to WDW visitors. 

Kentucky Governor Beshear updated that state’s travel advisory, which recommends a 14-day self-quarantine for Kentuckians who travel to states and U.S. territories that are reporting a positive testing rate equal to or greater than 15%. There is now an added footnote that “due to the removal of public health restrictions,” there is a higher risk of visiting Florida and a 14-day self-quarantine is again recommended after travel to Florida.

Similarly, Maryland‘s quarantine recommendation applies to Florida. Marylanders are strongly advised against traveling to states with positivity rates of 10% or higher. Anyone traveling from these states should get tested and self-quarantine while awaiting results.

There are also similar quarantine orders in effect by Rhode Island for travelers from Florida. There, travelers from states with a positive test rate greater than 5% must quarantine for 14 days, unless they had a negative test from the state they are coming from within the last 72 hours.

Both Maine and Massachusetts have similar rules in place. All visitors and returning residents entering Massachusetts must complete a travel form (unless visiting from a lower-risk state as designated by the Department of Health) and quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to arrival in Massachusetts.

Another state with a mandatory self-quarantine is New Mexico. That state requires a quarantine of all out-of-state travelers to New Mexico, whether by air or vehicle. The mandatory self-quarantine is to last 14 days or the length of stay in New Mexico, whichever is shorter.

Florida is still under a non-mandatory quarantine recommendation in Pennsylvania, which recommends that state’s residents stay at home for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania.

Both Alaska and Hawaii also have very similar mandatory 14-day traveler quarantine and passenger verification process for anyone traveling to those states. This has nothing to do with Florida, specifically.

Out-of-state travelers have the option to get test prior to their arrival, and show proof of a negative result, to avoid the 14-day quarantine.

Washington DC also requires anyone engaging in non-essential travel to or from Florida (and other hotspots) to self-quarantine for 14 days when they come to the District.

Same deal with Chicago’s Emergency Travel Order, which directs travelers entering or returning to Chicago from Florida and other surging states to self-quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state.

Several states are now embracing a partial “test out” option.

Both Vermont and New Hampshire require a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. If you have not had any symptoms, you have the option to get a PCR test on or after day 7 of quarantine and end your quarantine with a negative test result. You must continue to monitor yourself for symptoms for the full 14 days.

Finally, there’s the Tri-State Area. Florida is on the 14-day quarantine lists for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The good news is that New York has a new “test out” option for those arriving to or returning from the state after more than 24 hours elsewhere. The test out option has three requirements:

  • Travelers must obtain a negative test within three days of departure from that state.
  • Upon arrival in New York, the traveler must quarantine for 3 days.
  • On day 4, the traveler must obtain and receive another negative test result, at which point they may exit quarantine.

Since we’re anticipating other states adopting similar approaches, some advice for those planning on going this route…

First, there are numerous diagnostic testing sites within a short drive of Walt Disney World. The closest is unquestionably the Disney Maingate Complex, which is near Animal Kingdom (and actually on-property). The Florida Division of Emergency Management operates this walk-up testing site daily from 8 am to 5 pm, and appointments are not required at this location.

As of December 2020, the Disney Maingate Complex offers rapid testing, with results available in about 15 minutes. We’ve used this site and have had great experiences–never a wait, quick & easy, and friendly staff. Highly recommended!

Two alternatives with less convenient locations are the no-contact rapid tests at Walgreens or CVS. Walgreens has two locations: one in Kissimmee east of Disney’s Hollywood Studios (2274 Fortune Rd) or near Universal Orlando (5280 S John Young Pkwy).

CVS has two Orlando locations (13454 South Orange Blossom Trail & 7001 Old Winter Garden Road). Both have eligibility and appointment requirements right now, but are in the process of scaling up testing so it should become easier in the next month or two.

These quarantine orders may seem minor to those who aren’t coming from these states and cities, but they’ll have a big impact on Walt Disney World. For one thing, the greater New York area is the #1 demographic for out of state visitors to Walt Disney World. Such huge and lucrative segments of Walt Disney World’s audience being restricted from visiting is a colossal blow.

On the potential plus side for everyone else, these (and other) quarantine restrictions will discourage large segments of tourists from planning trips to Walt Disney World later this year. The impact on crowds could be pretty significant.

(If your state or city has a Florida quarantine order or advisory, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d leave a comment letting us know. There is no nationwide database with this information, and searching state-by-state is a tough task. Thanks!)

International Travel

When it comes to international arrivals, there are far more restrictions. Most of our non-US audience is based in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands, so we’ll focus on those locations.

Canada and the United States issued a mutual ban on non-essential travel across the land border back in the spring, and have extended that order each month since. This was just extended to December 21, 2020 and additional extensions after that are highly likely until the situation is under control.

Canada - Epcot - World Showcase

In a recent interview, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will keep the border closed until the United States gets case numbers under control. “The U.S. is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders.” With expectations that cases will continue to rise during the winter flu season, it’s likely the border will remain closed through 2021.

However, Canadian air passengers can still enter the United States so long as they haven’t visited a range of countries on the U.S. travel ban list within the last 14 days. There is no quarantine requirement for Canadians upon arrival into the United States–nor is there one for Florida, specifically–but Canadians must self-isolate for 14 days upon returning home.

United Kingdom citizens are currently barred from entering the United States, with some exceptions–including those with close family members in the US, and certain other limited categories of visas holders such as diplomats. The limited categories of people who are allowed entry to the US must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Previously, were some flickers of hope about a New York to London “air bridge” that would restore flight routes between those two cities by this holiday season without a quarantine, thanks to rapid testing. We would caution against too much hope about this–there have been rumors of a travel bridge between the UK and US for months, and with cases now spiking in both–and the United Kingdom going back into lockdown–we consider it highly unlikely to happen before 2021.

The same proclamation that bans travel to the United States from the United Kingdom and Ireland also applies to Europe. That means no one will be completing any Chateau to Castle challenges anytime soon.

This ban includes Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

It is presently unclear when and how this travel ban will be lifted–it could occur on a country-by-country basis, or a blanket proclamation. At this point, it is not expected to occur until Spring 2021 at the earliest.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the ban could last until a vaccine is developed, although it may be before that. Realistic timelines put the distribution of a vaccine to vulnerable populations in February or March 2021.

In addition to United States-issued travel bans regarding arrival, Australians are restricted from traveling overseas. Exceptions exist for New Zealand and other countries that have the pandemic under control; the United States is not one such exception.

There are concerns that these non-essential travel bans could last until Spring 2021 if the United States, Europe, and other nations don’t come up with ways for people to safely cross borders without fears of spread or new outbreaks.

One such possibility that is under consideration in Japan (a country dependent upon international tourism), is a rapid polymerase chain reaction test prior to travel. Airport testing is a viable option with results possible within 10 minutes, but the degree to which such a system could scale is debatable. (Although lack of demand for international travel may render that concern a moot point.)

CDC Recommendations

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends you stay home as much as possible, especially if your trip is not essential. The CDC states that those who are sick should not travel at all, nor should people travel with someone who is sick.

When you do go out, the CDC strongly encourages that you practice social distancing, especially if you are at higher risk of severe illness. Additionally, the latest CDC guidance strongly encourages cloth face coverings or masks in public, at events or gatherings.

Per the CDC, cloth face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms. These are not surgical masks or respirators–they’re not personal protective equipment. Cloth face coverings are for the benefit of others, and are mutually beneficial when worn by both parties to an interaction.

In summary, a variety of international travel bans remain in place–by both the United States and other countries–that will make visiting Walt Disney World a non-starter for at least the next few months, if not the remainder of the year. Past estimates have pegged international tourists as accounting for 18-22% of all guests to Walt Disney World, so this could be a big blow for park attendance.

With regard to domestic travel restrictions, visitors from all 50 states are now welcomed to Walt Disney World without restriction upon arrival. When returning home, it’s a different story, as over one-dozen states have mandatory quarantine requirements or recommendations. Unfortunately, after some of these were rescinded, we’re now likely to see more quarantine rules reinstated or implemented due to Florida’s upward trends. If you have a Christmas 2020 trip to Walt Disney World and are visiting from out of state, plan accordingly, as a 14-day quarantine could be required when you return home.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

Are you located in the tri-state region or other areas that have quarantines on travelers from Florida? Do you expect the travel restrictions to be extended into 2021? Do you have plans to visit Walt Disney World this winter or next spring? If you’re an international reader, what’s your expectation regarding travel between your country and the United States? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!


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