COVID-19: Travel

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.

We also want you to know that:

  1. Both international (overseas) and U.S. travel is risky.
  2. The level of COVID-19 spread in the area you want to travel to may change quickly. 
  3. COVID-19 case patients and close contacts are prohibited from using public transportation (e.g., 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.
    • 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 have you stay at home, or self-quarantine for 14 days after your travel.

Considerations for all travelers

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

  • It is 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?

 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.

Travel within Wisconsin

We do not recommend travel between your 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 wellbeing as well as the safety of our rural counties and tribal communities.

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 facemask, and wash or sanitize hands frequently.

Important: Do not travel if you or someone in your home is sick with symptoms of COVID-19.

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 non-essential travel to all global destinations. If you travel, prepare for delays in 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 visit 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, or even state or border closures.
  • Talk with your doctor before you go, especially if you are 65 years or older or have medical issues.
  • 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. 
  • 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 throw them away.

 Planning 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 check yourself 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.

  • Check your symptoms:
    • Check your temperature twice daily
    • Write down your symptoms
    • If you develop symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath, 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.

For everyone

Because COVID-19 is widespread in Wisconsin, everyone should reduce their contact with others by staying home when possible, practicing physical 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.

All 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.

More information can be found at: 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 due to limited testing supplies and capacity. Instead, you should plan to be tested upon arrival if offered at your destination and/or to follow any self-quarantine your destination may have in place. Contact your health care provider to inquire about testing prior to travel before using a community testing site to help preserve testing resources for individuals experiencing symptoms or asymptomatic close contacts who may not have access to a primary care provider to administer testing.

What states currently have community transmission?

COVID-19 is now in all states in 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 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.

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: September 11, 2020