COVID-19: Travel

Governor Evers is urging all Wisconsinites to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19. Businesses are also encouraged to take further steps to protect workers, customers, and the surrounding community.

COVID-19 is still spreading across our Wisconsin communities. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick. We recommend Wisconsinites cancel or postpone all travel, including travel within the state. Everyone should reduce their contact with others by staying home when possible, practicing physical distancing, and being alert for symptoms of COVID-19.

We also want you to know that:
  1. Both international (overseas) and U.S. travel is risky.
  2. The spread of COVID-19 can change quickly, including in areas of your travel destinations.
  3. COVID-19 case patients and close contacts are prohibited from using public transportation (for example, airplane, bus, ship, shuttle) during their isolation or quarantine periods.
  4. If you must travel, you should prepare for:
    • Changing travel restrictions.
    • Staying in-place if you get sick, which could mean isolating or quarantining at your travel destination, thereby postponing your return.
    • Planning for the impact of being away from your home for an extended period of time if you are required to isolate or quarantine in-place.
    • Some cities and counties in Wisconsin may require you stay at home or self-quarantine for 14 days after your travel.

Considerations

All travelers

Before traveling away from your local community, consider the following:

  • Is it necessary that you make this trip? Each trip outside your local community has risks for you, those you live with, your community, and the community you are traveling to.
  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you’re going? You can get infected while traveling.
  • Is COVID-19 spreading in your community? Even if you don’t have symptoms, you can spread COVID-19 to others while traveling.
  • Will you or those you are traveling with be within 6 feet of others during or after your trip? This increases your risk of getting infected and infecting others.
  • Are you or other travelers at high risk for becoming hospitalized from COVID-19?
  • Do you live with someone who is at high risk for becoming hospitalized from COVID-19?
  • Does the city or county where you live or visit require you to stay home for 14 days after traveling? Travel Planner Logo

Do not travel if you are sick, or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Do not travel with someone who is sick.

CDC’s Considerations for Travelers page has more information about travel. CDC's COVID-19 Travel Planner is a centralized communication platform with COVID-19 information for the state, local, territorial, and tribal communities travelers may pass through on the way to their destination.

Travel within Wisconsin

Do not travel if you are sick, or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Do not travel with someone who is sick.

We do not recommend travel between multiple private homes within the state. If you have been infected with COVID-19 and don’t yet have symptoms, travel to seasonal homes or rental cabins may raise the risk of you exposing others in the host community that you interact with at grocery stores, gas stations and other public places. This could be particularly challenging if you are in areas with few doctors or hospitals. This is for your safety and well-being as well as the safety of our rural counties and tribal communities. See the CDC's list of Frequently Asked Questions about Travel for more information.

Several counties in Wisconsin have issued travel advisories for seasonal and second homeowners. If you must travel, be sure to check for area-specific safety updates and closures. You may need to stay in place, or self-quarantine, for 14 days once you arrive at your destination.

Bring everything you will need, including your own groceries, medications, and toiletries. You should practice enhanced hand and respiratory hygiene at all times.

If you do travel to an area with few doctors or hospitals, avoid going out into the community as much as possible. If you do go out into the community, practice physical distancing, wear a face mask, and wash or sanitize hands frequently.

Older adults and people with chronic medical conditions

If you are at risk for serious illness from COVID-19, you should reduce your chances of catching the virus. You should avoid all travel both inside and outside of your community.

International or domestic travel

International or cruise ship travel is not safe because COVID-19 is spreading all over the world. You should avoid all nonessential travel to all global destinations. If you travel, prepare for delays in returning home. You may also be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to your destination and you could face unexpected delays returning home.

If you travel

If, despite these recommendations, you must travel, we recommend you do the following:

  • Limit groups you are traveling with to those that you live with. This will reduce the number of interactions, which reduces risk for spread or exposure and helps with contact tracing efforts.
  • Check the state or city health department travel guidance for your destination and along your route. Plan to keep checking for updates as you travel.
  • State or city governments may enact travel restrictions, such as stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, mandated quarantine upon arrival, mandated cloth facial coverings, or even state or border closures.
  • Talk with your doctor before you go, especially if you are 65 or older or have preexisting medical conditions.
  • Do a pre-trip check on your car and tires. Fewer roadside services may be available and you may become stranded if you have car troubles.
  • Clean your car, especially the steering wheel, safety belts, door handles, and the fob or keys you use to start the car. Follow the CDC guidelines on how to sanitize your home, which may be applicable to cleaning your car.
  • For each traveler, pack:
    • Cloth face coverings
    • Gloves
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Soap
    • Disinfectant wipes
    • A restroom break kit including bars of soap, paper towels for drying hands and using it to open doors, toilet seat covers, hand sanitizer, and wipes when soap and water are not available.
  • Pack plenty of charging cords and external batteries for electronic devices. If your car’s navigation system contains emergency calling, enable it.
  • Pack a cooler with drinks and snacks, including high-protein foods that will not go bad.
  • Bring everything you will need, including your own groceries, medications, and toiletries. This will reduce your need to interact with businesses in your destination area and reduce potential for spread or exposure.

If you need to stop for food, gas, or supplies

  • One traveler should engage with store employees.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after returning to your car.
  • Use cloth face coverings.
  • Wait to use the restroom until after you pump gas, and wash your hands before and after doing so.
  • Wear gloves while you pump gas and immediately throw them away.

Plan your trip

  • Call the hotel, restaurant, or rest area to make sure they are open, as many may have reduced hours. Do not rely on a website’s information.
  • Read the fine print and understand your lodging’s cancellation rules.
  • Ask about refund options for hotels or rental properties ahead of your trip.
  • Book directly with your with hotel or lodging establishment.

After you return from travel

After you return we ask you to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days. You should check for symptoms even if you followed the recommendations above.

Stay home as much as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19 to others.

Frequently asked questions

What are the current CDC travel advisories and what do they mean?

Most countries are considered Level 3 at this time. Level 3 means that there is widespread transmission of COVID-19 in these countries and all nonessential travel should be avoided. CDC classifies countries into different levels of travel risk based on each country's degree of COVID-19 transmission (primary criteria) and health care capacity and/or public health infrastructure (secondary criteria).

More information can be found on CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel webpage.

What should I do if I need to be tested before I travel?

Some countries and states are asking people to have proof of a negative test prior to travel. At this time, widespread testing of asymptomatic individuals, outside of an outbreak setting or a high-risk congregate living setting, is not recommended. This is due to limited testing supplies and capacity. Instead, you should plan to be tested when you arrive at your destination and/or follow any self-quarantine your destination may require. Contact your health care provider to inquire about testing prior to travel.

What states currently have community transmission?

COVID-19 is now in all states in the U.S., including Wisconsin. For the most up-to-date case counts for U.S. states, visit the CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the U.S. webpage.

Should I stay home if I was in another country or a U.S. state during the last 14 days?

There is no state-level requirement for travelers (domestic or international) to quarantine when arriving in Wisconsin. If you are identified as being a close contact to a person with COVID-19 during your travels, you are required to follow the public health guidance for COVID-19 quarantine.

If you’ve traveled out of your community and interacted with others, we recommend that you self-monitor your health and follow state and local COVID-19 prevention practices, such as social distancing, wearing face coverings, and good hand hygiene.

Some cities, counties, and employers may have post-travel requirements for their residents or employees, so DHS recommends checking with your local health department or employer prior to travel.

Is it safe to travel to campgrounds or go camping?

Camping can be unsafe if you come in contact with others or share public areas like restrooms and picnic areas or along trails. Camping may be especially unsafe if you are high risk, or if you will be in remote areas without easy access to medical care. For more information, visit the camping tab on the Staying Safe in Your Community page.

What if I ONLY spent time in an airport in another country or state with community transmission?

You should follow the same recommendations for self-monitoring and self-quarantine as other domestic and international travelers.

How do I reach my local health department?

Your local or tribal health department depends on where you live. Please see the DHS Local Public Health webpage and click your county.

Last Revised: November 25, 2020

 The information on this page contains Department of Health Services (DHS) recommendations, some of which may be required based on state or local orders. Please contact your local or tribal health department for more information on COVID-19 related public health orders in your community.