COVID-19: Travel

DHS recommends Wisconsin residents cancel or postpone all nonessential travel, including travel within the state. At this time, all international and domestic travel is considered risky, and all individuals who spend time outside of their home or local community have some risk of exposure to COVID-19. If international or domestic travel cannot be avoided, be prepared to remain away for an extended period of time if travel restrictions change or if you become sick. You should also be prepared to self-quarantine at home for 14 days upon your return.

Travel between private homes within the state, including seasonal homes or rental cabins, is strongly discouraged. This is for your safety and wellbeing as well as the safety of our rural counties and tribal communities. Non-essential travel outside your current community may spread COVID-19 to areas with very limited health care infrastructure.

Several counties in Wisconsin have issued travel advisories for seasonal and second homeowners. If you choose to travel to a second home in Wisconsin, you should be prepared to immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. You should bring your own groceries and essentials, as self-quarantine does not permit shopping at local stores for supplies.

“Safer At Home” and travel. On March 24, Governor Evers implemented a “Safer at Home” order for all Wisconsin residents, which will be in effect until at least April 24, 2020. This requires that Wisconsin residents stay at home or their place of residence, unless performing essential activities, such as seeking health care, food, necessary supplies and services, outdoor exercise, certain types of work, and other qualified activities. All travel within Wisconsin is prohibited other than certain essential travel, including:

  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order.
  • Travel to return home from outside your home jurisdiction.
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable populations.
  • Travel to or from educational institutions to receive materials for distance learning, meals, or other related services.
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside of Wisconsin.
  • Any travel related to perform other approved essential activities, special situations, essential government functions, essential business operations, and minimum basic operations, as described in Gov. Evers’ “Safer At Home” order.

Older adults and people with chronic medical conditions. If you are at risk for serious illness from COVID-19, you should avoid all travel within and outside of your community in order to minimize contact with others.

International or domestic travel. All travel that does not qualify as an essential activity should be canceled or postponed in compliance with the “Safer at Home” order.

Travel to countries with a Level 3 Travel Notice and travel on cruise ships are not considered safe at this time due to widespread transmission of COVID-19 in these areas. People who travel to these areas despite this recommendation should be prepared to encounter significant delays in returning home.

If you are returning from travel. If you traveled anywhere outside of your local community in the past 14 days, you are being asked to stay home and monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days after you returned. If you were able to practice social distancing during the entire time you were away (for example, you stayed in your car by yourself and kept at least 6 feet distance between yourself and others), you should still monitor your symptoms and practice social distancing.

  • Stay home. It is important that you avoid contact with others to avoid spreading the infection to others (this is called “self-quarantine”).
  • Monitor your symptoms. Check your temperature twice daily, and write down any symptoms you have (this is called ‘self-monitoring”). If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 like fever, cough, shortness of breath, or others and need medical care, call your doctor. See the Medium risk flier for a chart you can use to log your daily symptoms.

See COVID-19: Monitoring for Illness for more details about self-monitoring and self-quarantine.

Note: Self-quarantine rules may not apply for health care workers and others who perform essential services. Contact your local health department if you have questions about travel-related quarantine guidelines.

For everyone. Because COVID-19 transmission is now widespread throughout Wisconsin, even people who have not traveled outside of their community should minimize their contact with others by staying home when possible, practicing social distancing, and being alert for symptoms of COVID-19.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Level 3 country mean, and what countries does CDC currently consider to be Level 3 because of higher risk for getting sick with COVID-19?

Level 3 means that there is widespread transmission of COVID-19 in these countries, and all nonessential travel should be avoided. Not every country with cases of COVID-19 is considered Level 3 at this time, and all travel outside of your community, including domestic travel and travel within Wisconsin, may put you at risk for COVID-19.
More can be found at: CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel webpage.

What states currently have community transmission?

Transmission of COVID-19 is now widespread throughout the U.S., including in 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 a Level 3 country or a U.S. state with community transmission during the last 14 days?

Yes. Anyone who spent time outside of their local community in the past 14 days, including in Wisconsin, is being asked to complete a 14-day voluntary self-quarantine, unless they are health care workers or otherwise performing essential services. This means that for 14 days, you stay in your home and away from other people to prevent you from accidentally making other people sick. If you have been to a Level 3 country or a cruise, your local health department will be notified and may follow up with you directly. For other locations, you are expected to impose a voluntary self-quarantine.

What if I ONLY spent time in an airport in a Level 3 country or state with community transmission?

All international travel, as well as travel within the U.S. and travel within Wisconsin, is considered high risk if you are not able to maintain social distancing (for example, stay at least 6 feet away from others) throughout the entire trip. Even spending time in an airport would mean you should follow the same requirements for self-quarantine and self-monitoring as other travel.

What if I spent time in a country with a CDC Level 2 Travel Health Alert?

Currently, CDC has issued a Level 2 Travel Health Alert for any international travel. Given widespread global transmission of COVID-19, all international travel, as well as travel within the U.S. and travel within Wisconsin, is considered high risk if you are not able to maintain social distancing (for example, stay at least 6 feet away from others) throughout the entire trip and would mean you should follow the same requirements for self-quarantine and self-monitoring as other travel.

Why am I being asked to quarantine myself if I am not sick?

A quarantine is a preventive step to help stop the spread of diseases. It is the isolation of people who are not sick, but who were exposed to a disease and have the potential to become sick. People are quarantined during the time they might become sick. For COVID-19, most people will become sick within 14 days of their exposure if they were infected. Putting yourself in quarantine while you are not sick limits the number of people you have contact with in the event you become sick. This means you limit the number of people who could become sick from having contact with you because sometimes people can spread a disease before they know they are sick.

How do I reach my local health department if I have additional questions or need their assistance?

Your local or tribal health department is determined by where you live, please see the DHS Local Public Health webpage and click on the county where you live to see their contact information.


More can be found at: CDC COVID-19, Traveler Information Card.

Last Revised: March 30, 2020