Fully vaccinated people can start traveling again if they take precautions such as wearing a mask and observing social distancing, U.S. health authorities said Friday. The CDC also stressed that the latest announcement applied only to those who are fully vaccinated, and called on the unvaccinated to continue to avoid travel.
However, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that while people can travel, they still should avoid doing so.
"We know that right now we have a surging number of cases".
"If you are vaccinated, it is lower risk", she said.
There are no recommendations for worldwide travel.
The CDC had held off changing its travel guidance even as vaccinations increased, irking the travel industry.
The CDC last month released new guidelines for fully vaccinated people.
"Travel and tourism is the industry hardest hit by the economic fallout of COVID, and the damage is so severe that a broader economic recovery will stall if we can't get travel off the ground", he said.
Most non-U.S. citizens are still restricted from counties with high infection rates, including Brazil, China, South Africa and parts of Europe.
Domestic travelers who are fully vaccinated - meaning two weeks have passed since their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shot or their one and only Johnson & Johnson shot - do not need to self-quarantine upon arriving at their destination and "do not need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it", according to the CDC.
The CDC says recent research on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines indicates there is low risk to vaccinated individuals and that they can travel without a COVID-19 test or quarantining after traveling.
Many Americans have not been heeding the CDC's advice.
The Transportation Security Administration screened 1.56 million people at USA airports on Thursday, just below Sunday's 1.57 million, which was the highest daily total since March 2020.