Disney World Quarantine Rules & Travel Guidance

Quarantine rules to Florida from many states apply to Walt Disney World visitors returning home. This covers travel restrictions, mandates & recommendations, international testing requirements, updates on numbers, and relaxation of rules for fully vaccinated people by the CDC. (Updated April 26, 2021.)

In addition to travel rules, this post has become our monthly status report for progress and setbacks by states and the U.S. as a whole. As always, we’ll begin with the above map, which has stalled in its improvements. In some states, new cases have plateaued and even increased in hot spots. The silver lining there is that hospitalizations and deaths continue to drop throughout the United States, and that trend will likely continue with older and higher risk populations vaccinated.

Speaking of which, more positive news: the vaccination rollout continues to accelerate. The United States has now administered more than 225 million doses, fully vaccinating over 92.9 million people or 29% of the total U.S. population (42% are at least partially vaccinated). The United States is now averaging 3 million vaccines per day in the last week. We’re among the best countries in the world for vaccine rollout, on par with the United Kingdom and well ahead of the rest of Europe and Asia.

The fruits of these improved numbers are starting to impact policy. After months of cautionary messaging that has been slow to evolve, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will release new recommendations this week. This is expected to include a lifting of outdoor face mask guidance.

Per multiple news outlets, President Biden will announce several changes on April 27, as part of remarks on the state of the pandemic. The will likely include more rule relaxations for fully vaccinated people, though the final language of the announcement is unclear, as is to whom the outdoor mask rules will apply.

This comes after prominent publications like Slate and The Atlantic proposed an end to outdoor mask mandates. Israel, which offers a potential preview into what the U.S. numbers will look like in another month if vaccination rates hold, lifted its outdoor mask mandate.

There has also been a growing chorus for ending outdoor mask rules among experts. Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC: “People could choose to wear a mask if they want to. I think there shouldn’t be requirements that they have to wear masks outdoors…We know activities outside are lower risk than things done indoors.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci essentially said the same thing on ABC with regard to outdoor mask rules: “The CDC is a science-based organization. They don’t want to make any guidelines unless they look at the data and the data backs it up. But when you look around at the common sense situation, obviously the risk is really very low, particularly if you’re vaccinated.”

As we reported last week, Orange County is weighing a timeline to phase out some restrictions, including face masks and physical distancing. New CDC guidance could preempt that, and be a potential game-changer for Walt Disney World. However, that’s likely only going to be the case if dropping masks outdoors encompasses both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

If you’re wondering why Walt Disney World probably won’t change its mask rules if that relaxation applies only to the fully vaccinated, it comes down to logistics. Theme parks, airlines, hotels, and various other businesses cannot have two classes of people. That would be a nightmare scenario for enforcement, and overly burdensome to frontline Cast Members and other employees of the aforementioned businesses. As we’ve reported previously, vaccine passports could sidestep this issue, but will not be allowed in Florida.

Prior to this, the CDC released new travel guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals. This is a big step that reflects a shift in messaging and better balance, which is necessary if the CDC wants its advice to remain relevant to real world behavior.

For domestic travel, people who are two weeks past their final shot (first dose of Johnson & Johnson; second dose of Moderna or Pfizer) do not need to get a test before or after trips and do not need to self-quarantine after travel. That means, for example, fully-vaccinated grandparents can fly to visit their grandchildren without testing or self-quarantining, provided they follow the other recommended public health measures, such as wearing masks on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation.

For international travel, the CDC guidance indicates that fully vaccinated people do not need to be tested before their trips unless it is required by the destination. When returning to the United States, fully vaccinated people should get tested and have a negative result before boarding an international flight back to the United States.

Of course, this international travel guidance is somewhat meaningless for most countries that have barred travel. However, that could change in the coming months. The U.S. Travel Association has pushed the government to lift travel restrictions on international visitors. As many of these are reciprocal in nature, this is first likely to occur with other countries–like the United Kingdom and Israel–that are also vaccinating at high rates. (Vaccine passports remain likely for international travel, with the European Union and many other countries working on implementing such systems.)

In tandem with this travel guidance, the CDC also stated that “if grandparents have been vaccinated, they can visit their daughter and her family, even if they have not been vaccinated so long as the daughter and her family are not at risk for severe disease.”

Extrapolating from that quote, this could be a precursor to how the CDC will handle bigger picture guidance given that most kids likely will not be vaccinated in 2021. That’s very relevant to Walt Disney World’s rules given its core demographics. With all adults now eligible to be vaccinated and ample availability throughout most of the country, it’s entirely possible that things are closer to normal and public health measures can be further relaxed by Memorial Day.

We’re already seeing some states ditch their rules, and more will undoubtedly follow suit as the early-movers are “vindicated” by numbers that continue to decline. Based solely on seasonality, current trajectory, and vaccination rates, that seems likely. Moreover, public tolerance of face masks, especially once vaccines are widely available, is going to plummet.

Being fully vaccinated is effectively the end of this for most people, and they’ll want to behave accordingly. No matter how people might feel about masks right now, the vast majority won’t want to continue having to wear them long after they’ve been vaccinated, especially on vacation.

We’ve been predicting precisely this for months. (See When Will Walt Disney World Stop Requiring Face Masks? among many other posts.) Even late last year as the holiday surge started, we stressed that there was light at the end of the tunnel and numbers would start to come down as the season of family gatherings ended (contact tracing has shown over 70% of cases are a result of “living room spread“) and vaccines rolled out.

On the last earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently stated that Walt Disney World could have some level of physical distancing and mask-wearing for the remainder of 2021 but called vaccine availability a game-changer. Most other sites emphasized the “remainder of 2021” part of that, saying it meant face masks until 2022.

We disagreed, emphasizing the some level and game-changer parts. In parsing Chapek’s words, it appears to us that Disney is laying the groundwork for changing its approach to health safety protocol so rules can be relaxed on an earlier timeline. (Just reiterating all of that here to double-down on our past predictions, which have been criticized for being too bold and optimistic.)

Even with variants posing some cause for concern and making it premature to declare mission accomplished, our view is that “cautious optimism” is still the appropriate perspective. In Europe there has been a plateauing of numbers or even spikes in some countries, but the United States’ vaccine rollout has been markedly better. Again, we’re on par with the United Kingdom, which is still seeing cases and deaths drop despite their variant.

Obviously, things could still go wrong–as has happened several times throughout this–but hopefully the U.S. can outrun the variants with vaccinations. Anyway, let’s move along to the travel restrictions and quarantine recommendations & rules…

Domestic Travel Restrictions & Quarantine Rules

Now let’s turn to the state-by-state quarantine rules. 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 those in fall of last year, and Florida Fully Reopened in September.

In short, there is no quarantine rule that will impact you going to Walt Disney World. However, returning from Walt Disney World is another story entirely. 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. (Note: the aforementioned CDC travel guidance for vaccinated people was just released on April 2, 2021 and many states haven’t yet had a chance to update their rules accordingly–within a few days, all will align with the CDC guidance.)

New York has announced that domestic travelers will no longer be required to quarantine after entering New York from another U.S. State or U.S. Territory. It’s still recommended as an added precaution, and completing a health form is still necessary.

New Jersey has already shifted from a mandatory to a voluntary quarantine, as has Connecticut. This is significant, and the Tri-State Area is all lumped together up top, because this trio has had some of the more stringent rules in the contiguous United States.

California‘s travel advisory has been relaxed for the fully vaccinated. If you are unvaccinated, avoid non-essential travel. If you must travel, get tested 1-3 days before travel and 3-5 days after travel. After travel, self-quarantine for 7 days, no matter what your test results were. If you didn’t get tested, self-quarantine for 10 days.

Maryland‘s emergency order to limit all travel to essential purposes only still appears to be in place. All Marylanders who do travel outside of Maryland or any individuals who do travel to Maryland must either obtain a negative test result or self-quarantine for 10 days upon return home.

Kentucky‘s travel advisory now discourages all out-of-state leisure travel until further notice. Those who do travel out-of-state for leisure travel are urged to voluntarily self-quarantine upon return to Kentucky or follow CDC guidance for alternate options to shorten the quarantine period.

Minnesota highly discourages out of state travel for non-essential purposes. Incoming visitors and Minnesotans who travel out-of-state are asked to stay home and quarantine for 14 days. Consistent with CDC guidance, a shortened quarantine period may be possible.

Rhode Island‘s rule is that those arriving will need to quarantine for 10 days or provide proof of a negative test result taken within 72 hours prior to arrival. Quarantines can be shortened with post-arrival testing. Those who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine if asymptomatic.

Both Maine and Massachusetts have nearly identical rules in place, right down to the exception for fully vaccinated individuals.

Pennsylvania has rescinded its quarantine rules. Now, travelers are simply advised to practice appropriate public health measures to slow the spread.

New Mexico also rescinded its mandatory quarantine rule. Visitors from anywhere outside of the state will instead by strongly advised to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days.

Vermont no longer requires quarantine for those who are fully vaccinated (it has been 14 days since your final vaccine dose). Anyone else traveling to Vermont must quarantine for 10 days.

New Hampshire requires a 10-day quarantine upon arrival, except for fully vaccinated people. If you have not had any symptoms, you have the option to get a PCR test and end your quarantine with a negative test result. You must continue to monitor yourself for symptoms for the full 14 days.

Kansas no longer has a quarantine requirement for Florida. However, it does have one for mass gatherings of more than 500 where you did not socially distance and wear a mask. Walt Disney World has such rules, so this arguably does not apply.

Both Alaska and Hawaii have very similar mandatory 10-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 tested via a trusted travel provider prior to their arrival, and show proof of a negative result, to avoid the quarantine.

Washington DC requires anyone engaging in non-essential travel to or from Florida and other states 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 10-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state.

If your state has a test-out option, 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.

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.

(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

The CDC is expanding the requirement for a negative test to all international air passengers entering the United States. A test will be required before departure to the United States, and that will be combined with the CDC recommendations to get tested again 3-5 days after arrival and quarantine for 7 days post-travel.

The new administration issued an executive order reaffirming this rule, which is now in effect. It also requested that these policies be reviewed by the State Department, Homeland Security, Transportation Department, HHS, FAA, TSA, and CDC leadership.

Canada and the United States issued a mutual ban on non-essential travel across the land border last spring, and have extended that order each month since. People driving into Canada must provide proof of a negative PCR test taken in the United States within 72 hours or proof of a positive test result between 14 and 90 days before arrival, which is long enough for the illness to have passed, but not so long that immunity might have waned.

Travelers arriving at Canada’s land border points will also be required to take tests upon arrival. That is also the date that air travelers will be forced into a mandatory three-day hotel quarantine at their own expense and required to take multiple tests.

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 without a quarantine, thanks to rapid testing. We would caution against too much hope about this–there had been rumors of a travel bridge between the UK and US, but those have been quiet for months.

The same proclamation that bans travel to the United States from the United Kingdom and Ireland also applies to the European Schengen area. 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 Summer 2021 at the earliest.

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.

With vaccine distribution likely to take several months, there are concerns that these non-essential travel bans could last until 2022 if nations don’t come up with ways for people to safely cross borders. One such possibility 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.)

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 2021 trip to Walt Disney World and are visiting from out of state, plan accordingly, as a 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 a state that has quarantines on travelers from Florida? How far into 2021 do you expect the travel restrictions to be extended? Do you have plans to visit Walt Disney World this spring or summer? 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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