Holiday Travel During COVID-19 Pandemic


Photo Courtesy of UW ReadiLab

L.A. County strongly discourages traveling for the holidays during pandemic, fears case increase

Linsey Towles, The Scroll, Co-Editor in Chief

With the holiday season fast approaching and COVID-19 numbers remaining high and increasing, Los Angeles County public health officials outlined guidelines for traveling. 

L.A. County remains in the most restrictive “purple” tier of Governor Gavin Newsom’s tier system, with California over the brink of one million cases. County officials worry that with the holidays and possible travel, the number of coronavirus cases could increase as well.  

Officials discourage holiday traveling of any kind, especially between counties and states in the restrictive tier and with a growing number of cases. 

On November 12, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer answered questions regarding holiday traveling, stating, “We’ve got to get through the next few months, and we’ve got to do so without spreading the virus even more. I want everyone to think hard about their Thanksgiving plans.”

If residents do decide to travel during this time, L.A. County recommends a 14-day quarantine when returning home, avoiding going out in public places and limiting contact with others. This includes going out to eat and being in large groups of people. Ferrer did mention quarantined individuals’ ability to do things such as taking a walk, being in open outdoor spaces and ordering food for delivery. 

“If you are going to travel, which we do not recommend, we do ask that when you come back you quarantine for 14 days. The tighter you can restrict your activities over those 14 days the better off we all are,” said Ferrer. 

A large majority of holiday travels include students coming home from colleges and universities, something that L.A. County does not recommend. Some colleges also recommend that if a student does go home for the holidays, they finish the rest of their semester at home via distance learning, so not to possibly expose others on campus when returning. 

“We have talked to some universities about the guidance behind traveling and the preference for people not to be flying home, especially because we are not the only place seeing a surge in cases,” advised Ferrer. 

For celebrating holidays in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends small family gatherings with those a part of your household or virtual celebrations with those outside of your household. The CDC recognizes those who do not currently live in your housing unity, including college students, as part of different households and does not recommend in-person celebrations. 

Gatherings that pose the least risk of COVID-19 spread are smaller outdoor gatherings in which people can remain six feet apart, wear masks, avoid sharing objects and come from the same local area. To find out more about how to host a COVID-19 safe gathering, click here.