Quarantine Rules for Disney World Travelers

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 case numbers, and the rumored Florida travel ban. (Updated February 15, 2021.)

The map above still doesn’t look great, but it’s an improvement from last month, which was itself good news as the United States exited the holiday surge. For the last several weeks, cases and hospitalizations have been dropping in every state. In more positive news, deaths are starting to drop across the country.

While the raw numbers are still above their summer levels, the decreases are dramatic, making for very encouraging trends. Between holiday gatherings being in the rear-view mirror (contact tracing has shown areas where over 70% of cases are a result of “living room spread“) and vaccines starting to roll out, we’ll hopefully continue to see significant improvements and states ease up quarantine rules.

It’ll probably take until next month to see the fruits of these improved numbers impact policy, so stay tuned for next month’s report if you’re waiting for quarantine rules to be lifted. Suffice to say, we’re optimistic for Spring 2021 travel.

If you’re apprehensive or find our optimism to be misplaced given all of the red and orange in the above map, here’s a better way of visualizing the trends and trajectory of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths:

There are still significant changes to report this month. As announced in January by the previous administration, 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. The follow-through on this has caused something of a kerfuffle…

Last week, a report from the Miami Herald (and Kansas City Star) stated that travel restrictions were being considered as a result of the UK variant surging in certain states, including Florida. That prompted a swift backlash from politicians in Florida, lambasting the possibility of a “Florida travel ban.” However, the only mentioning of a ban in that story comes from the politicians opposing one.

To the contrary, the article says: “The White House has not said that it is considering a Florida travel ban.” Other news outlets confirmed that the U.S. Department of Transportation was actually considering a pre-flight testing requirement, similar to the aforementioned international tests. The federal government has since ruled even this out, per multiple reports.

In short, much ado about nothing. A domestic travel ban was never on the table and what was considered–pre-flight domestic testing–also will not occur. If you doubt this and fear that your trip plans might get cancelled, it’s worth noting that any domestic travel restrictions would undoubtedly be challenged in court and struck down quickly.

Next, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has offered new quarantine guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. The vaccines have been shown to prevent symptomatic transmission, which is now thought to play a greater role than asymptomatic disease.

Stating that individual and societal benefits of avoiding unnecessary quarantine outweigh the potential risk of transmission, the CDC states that fully vaccinated individuals no longer have to quarantine if they remain free of symptoms. People who choose not to quarantine should do so only if they received their last dose within three months, and should only avoid 14 days quarantine after their last shot, the time it takes to develop immunity, per the CDC.

Prior to this, the CDC shortened its quarantine period, from 14 days to 10 days. Now, quarantine can end after day 10 without testing 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 14-day recommendation is based on estimates of the upper bounds of the incubation period.

This 10-day quarantine 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.

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.

Unless circumstances change dramatically, it’s highly unlikely that Florida will enact new quarantine rules or travel bans going forward. The governor has repeatedly said any new closures are off the table in Florida, and he has openly questioned the efficacy of lockdowns.

While the state saw an increase in new cases, positivity rates, and cases per 100,000 people during the holiday season, Florida’s approach has largely been vindicated, as states with stricter measures also saw similar spikes. (Again, most transmission occurs within homes, and there’s no way to effectively enforce a “ban” on household gatherings.)

As with elsewhere, Florida’s numbers are once again on the decline. Johns Hopkins University, which has become the nationwide aggregating standard, recently changed its positivity calculation and now puts Florida’s positivity rate at 7.2%. That’s still high as compared to last fall, but it has dropped considerably from the 14.1% post-holiday positivity level, and continues trending downward.

Nevertheless, 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…

There are 10-day quarantines in place for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The good news is that all have embraced a “test out” option for those arriving to or returning from the state. 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.

Other states have started to introduce similar test out options, many of which are not as stringent. Most states also have reduced their length of quarantine from 14 days to 10 days.

California‘s Department of Public Health revised its travel advisory in early 2021. Except in connection with essential travel, Californians should avoid non-essential travel to any part of California more than 120 miles from one’s place of residence, or to other states or countries. All persons arriving in or returning to California from other states or countries, should self-quarantine for 10 days.

Maryland issued an emergency order to limit all travel to essential purposes only. 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‘s “Stay Safe” plan 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 the aforementioned CDC guidance, a shortened quarantine period may be possible.

Rhode Island‘s rule is that those arriving will need to quarantine for 14 days or provide proof of a negative test result taken within 72 hours prior to arrival. Quarantines can be shortened with post-arrival testing.

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.

Pennsylvania is requiring that travelers entering Pennsylvania from other countries and states, as well as Pennsylvanians who are returning home from other countries or states, have a negative test within 72 hours prior to entering the Commonwealth or quarantine for 10 days upon entry into Pennsylvania.

Both Vermont and New Hampshire require a 10-day quarantine upon arrival. 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.

New Mexico 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.

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. The language has been broadened and it now definitely applies to Walt Disney World visitors. 

Both Alaska and Hawaii also 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 also 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 14-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.

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 last spring, and have extended that order each month since. As of February 15, 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.

As of February 22, 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 Spring 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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