Travel increases one’s chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. COVID-19 cases and deaths have been reported in all U.S. states and globally. COVID-19 case counts are fluid, with some regions reporting increasing case counts while case counts in other regions are declining, at both the domestic and international levels.

Public travel areas such as airports, bus stations, train stations and rest stops all present substantial risk of virus exposure for travelers. Specific risks include shared, high-touch surfaces, and crowd density that might make it difficult to maintain the recommended six (6) feet of physical distance. It is likely that the safest form of travel is by personal car for distances that do not require stops for rest or refueling. However, travelers should remain cautious about the risks of car travel, especially the use of rental cars.

It is important to remember that when traveling, or interacting with those who have traveled, the fundamental principles of physical distancing and limiting the number of close personal contacts should be maintained.

The guidelines below should be followed, to the extent possible, during each University Operational Posture.

1. Air Travel

Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring travelers into close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Most viruses do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered in airplanes. However, maintaining physical distance is difficult on crowded flights and one may have to sit near others, sometimes for hours, and in many cases, near passengers who are not masked. This proximity and lack of masking may increase the risk for exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. The CDC provides additional FAQs related to travel that should be consulted. The guidelines shown below regarding public transit are also applicable.

2. Public Transit

Traveling on buses and trains for any length of time can involve sitting or standing within six (6) feet of others and/or encountering frequently touched surfaces. Best practices for taking public transit include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Check with local transit authorities for the latest information on schedules, changes to services, and procedures.
  • Avoid touching surfaces such as kiosks, digital interfaces, ticket machines, handrails, restroom surfaces, benches, etc., as much as possible. If you must touch these surfaces, wash or sanitize your hands as soon as possible after doing so and before touching your face.
  • Use touchless payment and no-touch trash cans and doors when available. 6
  • When possible, travel during non-peak hours (e.g., not during rush hour) when there are likely to be fewer people.
  • Follow physical distancing guidelines by staying at least six (6) feet from people who are not from your household.
  • Avoid gathering in groups, and stay out of crowded spaces when possible, especially at transit stations and stops.
  • Consider skipping a row of seats between yourself and other riders if possible.
  • Enter and exit buses through rear entry doors if possible.
  • Look for social distancing guidelines or physical guides offered by transit authorities.
  • After you leave the transit station or stop, wash or sanitize your hands. Do the same when you arrive at your destination.

3. Rideshare, Taxi, Limo

While taking forms of car transportation such as rideshare, taxis, or limos, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • Avoid contact with surfaces frequently touched by passengers or drivers, such as the door frame and handles, windows, and other vehicle parts. In circumstances where such contact is unavoidable, use a hand sanitizer as soon as possible afterward and before touching your face.
  • Avoid accepting offers of free water bottles, and avoid touching magazines or other items that may be provided free to passengers.
  • Use touchless payment when available.
  • Limit the number of passengers in the vehicle to only those necessary, and preferably only those within your household.
  • Avoid pooled rides, or rides where multiple passengers are picked up who are not in the same household as you.
  • Sit in the back seat in larger vehicles such as vans and buses so you can remain at least six (6) feet away from the driver.
  • Ask the driver to improve the ventilation in the vehicle if possible—for example, by opening the windows or setting the air ventilation/air conditioning on non- recirculation mode. Make certain the driver is wearing a mask.
  • After leaving the vehicle and before touching your face, use hand sanitizer; when you arrive at your destination, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer again.

4. Car travel

While using a personal car for travel, making stops (e.g., for gas, food, or bathroom breaks) can put travelers and their companions in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. However, this manner of travel may still be less risky than other travel alternatives, as the individual has more control over the level of risk exposure.