Travel restrictions for certain states, including quarantine requirements for visitors to and from Florida and Walt Disney World, plus timelines for the lifting of bans have become common reader questions. In this post, we’ll cover rules issued by other states, and offer updates on enforcement in Florida. (Updated August 1, 2020.)
Walt Disney World’s official policy from its Know Before You Go page is that “Before traveling to Florida, please make sure that you have reviewed any advisories or restrictions that may be in place for travel to Florida…Guests who are under isolation or quarantine orders must not enter Walt Disney World Resort.”
That doesn’t exactly provide a succinct answer, so let’s turn to the Florida Governor’s Actions Regarding Travel page referenced above. This also isn’t particularly straightforward, but Florida has attempted to discourage interstate travel by imposing 14-day quarantines on visitors from some states. Now, other states have followed suit and issued quarantine orders on travel from Florida…
When this post was originally published, it only covered quarantines initiated by Florida to and from high-risk locations. At that point, Florida’s case numbers were low. Since, we’ve seen a reversal of that trend, with the most recent restrictions being covered in the “Quarantines for Travel From Florida” section below.
Here we’ll break things down further, and cover where quarantine orders and still in effect and where they’ve been lifted…
Quarantines for Travel To Florida
In Executive Order Number 20-82, Governor Ron DeSantis directed all individuals entering Florida from the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York) to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into Florida or the duration of the individual’s presence in Florida, whichever is shorter. This includes persons entering Florida by roadways as well as indirect arrivals, applying to anyone who has been in the Tri-State Area in the previous 14 days.
With this quarantine order set to expire, Florida Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order Number 20-166, which extends Florida’s state of emergency for another 60 days. By virtue of that extension, the Tri-State Area Quarantine is automatically extended for another 60 days with it. This means the Tri-State Area Quarantine will now expire on September 5, 2020 if it’s not extended again.
UPDATE: Florida’s Department of Health has stopped enforcing Governor Ron DeSantis’ order requiring travelers from Connecticut, New Jersey and New York to quarantine for 14 days after arriving in the state. This info comes from several airports that previously had been tasked with facilitating the collection of contact information from travelers and providing quarantine instruction forms. This is no longer occurring at Central or South Florida airports.
Additionally, the Florida Department of Transportation, which previously operated highway checkpoints for travelers driving in from other states, has closed its checkpoint previously in place at the Florida-Georgia state line. Although we cannot confirm that enforcement has been eliminated state-wide, that certainly appears to be the case.
However, when we contacted Governor DeSantis’ office and the Florida Department of Health, neither would confirm a policy change, that a new executive order will be issued reflecting this, or that the quarantine order will be formally lifted. In other words, the executive order requiring 14-day quarantine for tri-state visitors remains officially on the books, but is not being enforced in any way. Do with that information what you will.
There is clearly animosity between Governor DeSantis and leaders in the Tri-State Area, so this could quarantine could officially remain in place through September as a retaliatory measure for the quarantine these states issued on those coming from Florida, despite not being enforced.
Quarantines for Travel From Florida
In “turnabout is fair play” news, other locations that were initially hotspots–some of which Florida quarantined–are now reciprocating. Travelers arriving to New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut from Florida and other states with spiking infection rates will be subject to a 14-day quarantine and fines if they don’t self-isolate.
The infection rate is based on the number of infections per 100,000 residents on a 7-day rolling average. People who don’t voluntarily quarantine for 14 days will be subject to fines and a mandatory quarantine. Travelers from those viral hotspot states landing at New York airports now must fill out a form that state officials will use to ensure they’re isolating for 14 days.
Failure to fill out the form before leaving the airport will result in a $2,000 fine and mandatory quarantine. Airlines will provide the forms to passengers prior to or upon disembarking flights to New York. Enforcement teams will be stationed at airports statewide to meet arriving aircraft at gates and request proof of the form’s completion. Travelers arriving to New York 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. With Florida’s cases continuing to surge and the state also continuing to further reopen, this new 14-day quarantine may be in place for a while.
Residents of those states–and elsewhere–need to assess their personal comfort level with traveling to Florida right now, which is now an epicenter of the outbreak. Given that visitors from these states will now have to quarantine upon arriving to Florida and upon returning home, this likely makes visiting Walt Disney World impractical now for most Tri-State Area residents.
Likewise, the Chicago Department of Public Health issued an Emergency Travel Order directing travelers entering or returning to Chicago from 15 states (including Florida) to self-quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state. Per this FAQ, individuals found in violation of the Order are subject to fines of $100 – $500 per day, up to $7,000.
Washington DC will also now require 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 the states of Rhode Island and Kansas for travelers from Florida. In Rhode Island, 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.
The latest states to issue similar quarantine orders are Maineand Massachusetts. Effective August 1, 2020, 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 your 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.
Governor Mike DeWine issued a travel advisory for Ohio. That state is recommending all individuals coming into Ohio from states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or higher (which includes Florida) self-quarantine for 14 days. The advisory applies to residents of Ohio returning to the state from Florida, as well as to visitors of Ohio. This is not required, and as such there is not a penalty for non-compliance.
Pennsylvania has issued a similar statement, where it’s also only a recommendation for that state’s residents. Same goes for Maryland, which is “encouraging” residents and visitors to be tested 72 hours of arrival in the state. Kentucky likewise has an advisory targeting the state’s most significant cause of case clusters, including Florida. The advisory asks those who travel to states with a 15% positivity rate or greater to self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning. The positivity rate is drawn from data presented by Johns Hopkins University.
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. Starting August 1, 2020, out-of-state travelers will 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 and the Chicago metropolitan area are #1 and #2 for Walt Disney World in terms of out of state guest demographics. 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 summer and fall. The impact on crowds could be pretty significant, reducing attendance below the 20-30% cap most days.
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 March for 30 days, and extended that order each month since. At present, this is due to expire on August 21, but another extension is entirely possible.
However, Canadian air passengers can still enter the United States so long as they haven’t visited Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, the United Kingdom or 26 European countries in the Schengen Area 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 have been barred from entering the United States since March 16, 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.
The same proclamation that applies to travel from the United Kingdom and Ireland also applies to the rest of Europe. This 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 present, it is not expected to occur this summer or even early fall, and may not happen until 2021.
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. He said lifting it would be “more likely months than weeks.”
Exceptions are likely for New Zealand and other countries that have the pandemic under control; the United States is not expected to be one such exception.
There are concerns that these non-essential travel bans could last until 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, the Louisiana quarantine has already been lifted. At present, the quarantine on arrivals from Connecticut, New Jersey, or New York will be likewise lifted on September 5, 2020–but is not being enforced right now. That date could still be extended or enforcement could change, but barring a significant spike in the Tri-State Area, that seems unlikely to occur given that the economic upside to allowing visitors from those states likely outweighs the health risks they pose. In other words, visitors from all 50 states should be welcomed to Walt Disney World without restriction once the parks reopen.
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 September 2020, be rescinded earlier than that, or extended yet again? Do you have plans to visit Walt Disney World this summer or fall? 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!