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, and updates on Florida’s case numbers. (Updated October 19, 2020.)
Let’s start with the good news: Florida no longer has 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 over the summer, most notably the Tri-State Area 14-day quarantine for those coming to Florida from New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
Now the bad news. After Florida’s case numbers decreased from late August through September, they’re trending back in the wrong direction as of late October 2020. (On the plus side, hospitalizations and deaths are still declining–for now.) Unfortunately, new cases are up, as are positivity rates, and cases per 100,000 people. The last two stats are particularly significant, as these are what many other states use to determine their quarantine rules…
Florida’s positivity rate is at 4.68% or 5.94% depending upon how it’s calculated (the latter is the WHO standard; the former is Florida’s official number). Independent experts, including Johns Hopkins University, put Florida’s positivity rate at 11.9%. The basis for each of these three percentages is described here. Additionally, Florida now has 15.7 daily new cases per 100,000 people as of late October 2020.
Numbers are likely increasing due to schools going back into session, and Florida Entering Phase 3 and Fully Reopening. This occurred late last month when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order removing capacity restrictions on bars, restaurants, stores, theme parks, and more. If there’s a silver lining there, it’s that numbers haven’t increased more. Additionally, with Florida’s weather getting nicer during the fall and winter months, the state should benefit from more people opting outdoors–the reverse of what’s happening in the Midwest and Northeast.
Nevertheless, we don’t want to paint too rosy of a picture of Florida’s future. Above is a map of current transmission levels in the United States, which looks…not good! Along with many other states, Florida is in the “uncontrolled spread” tier.
As you can see, the bulk of the United States is surging–many other states are seeing much larger percentage increases. We mention this not to champion Florida’s numbers, but because those skyrocketing numbers elsewhere could result in those states to reinstate or institute new quarantine restrictions.
In some good news, Florida has been removed from Chicago’s Emergency Travel Order directing travelers entering or returning to Chicago from surging states to self-quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state.
Chicago’s order applies to states that have a rate greater than 15 new cases per 100,000 resident population, per day, over a 7-day rolling average. Florida qualified for removal in mid-September after over two months on the list. However, if Florida can’t get its numbers down soon, it’ll likely rejoin the list by November 2020.
Kansas has also eliminated its quarantine requirement for Florida (and all other domestic destinations), instead implementing new rules for those who have attended mass gatherings. These do not apply to visitors of Walt Disney World–unless you fail to follow physical distancing or face mask rules in the parks.
Same goes for Ohio, which now no longer advises those who have visited Florida to self-quarantine upon return/arrival. Ohio advises those who have traveled to states with rolling 7-day positivity rates of 15% or higher to self-quarantine for 14 days. Most states, including Florida, are well below this level.
Recently, 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 once again 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.
Along those same lines, Florida has not been removed from the quarantine list for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Accordingly, travelers arriving to these states from Florida and other states are be subject to a 14-day quarantine and fines if they don’t self-isolate.
This Tri-State Quarantine is based upon a seven day rolling average of positive tests in excess of 10%, or number of positive cases exceeding 10 per 100,000 residents. It’s unclear which of the three positivity metrics would be used for this, but that’s irrelevant until Florida gets its new cases per 100,000 residents number down. The state was almost there last month, but if current trends hold, Florida isn’t going to be removed from the list in November or December 2020.
Failure to comply will result in a $2,000 fine and mandatory quarantine. Airlines will provide the forms to passengers prior to or upon disembarking flights. Enforcement teams will be stationed at airports to meet arriving aircraft at gates and request proof of the form’s completion. Travelers arriving by train, bus, or car are required to fill the form out online.
This is pertinent to travelers from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut because they will be subject to this mandatory self-isolation requirement upon returning home if they choose to visit Walt Disney World.
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.
The mayor’s order affects both DC residents who return from travel to hotspots for non-essential purposes, and hotspot residents who come to DC for non-essential travel. DC Health will post a list of current hotspots here.
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 percent must quarantine for 14 days, unless they had a negative test from the state they are coming from within the last 72 hours. It’s worth noting that Florida now qualifies for removal, but that has not yet officially occurred.
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. Failure to comply results in a $500 penalty. Maine’s rules are nearly identical–but with the threat of a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
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.
Finally, both Alaska and Hawaii 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.
(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!)
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.
This is before even accounting for guests who will be discouraged from visiting even without quarantine orders, plus international tourists, almost all of whom are effectively prevented from entering the United States (and by extension, Walt Disney World) right now…
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 November 21, 2020 and additional extensions after that are highly likely.
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.
However, there have been 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, it’s unlikely to be expedited.
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.)
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!
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 expire in November or December 2020 or 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!