In an attempt to control the spread of the Coronavirus, the U.S. government is imposing new travel restrictions.
Any traveler that has been in or through China 14 days prior to returning to the U.S. can now only arrive by eleven airports. These airports are now equipped with special tools to perform enhanced health screening with quarantine capabilities. At the time of publication, this restriction excludes those who have been through the autonomous regions of both Hong Kong & Macau.
Any U.S. citizen that has been to the Hubei province – the origin of the virus – within 14 days of arrival will be subject to a mandatory quarantine of up to two weeks long.
The new restrictions come as the toll of the virus grows. There were 17,451 confirmed cases of the virus and 362 deaths at the time of publication – and that number is only expected to rise. The majority of these cases, close to 99%, are contained in mainland China.
While all major U.S. airlines have suspended flights to China, airlines are still operating flights throughout Asia. There are also smaller airlines that are still operating flights between the two nations.
If you're traveling to China or through China here's what to expect.
Who It Affects
These travel restrictions apply to anyone that has either traveled to or through China, 14 days prior to coming to the United States. This means that even if you're only spending a few hours at an airport in China, you are subject to these restrictions.
Airlines have been instructed to re-route any flights if it is discovered mid-flight that a passenger onboard has recently spent time in China. All passengers on that flight will be subject to health screening upon arrival at one of the 11 approved airports.
The Airports Allowing Entry
There are 11 airports that are equipped to screen passengers for the Coronavirus. If you are coming from or through China these are the only points of entry where you will be allowed into the United States.
Hartsfield- Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)- Atlanta, Georgia
O'Hare International Airport (ORD)- Chicago, Illinois
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)- Dallas, Texas
Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)- Detroit, Michigan
Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)- Honolulu, Hawaii
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, Calfornia
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)- Newark, New Jersey
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)- New York, New York
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)- San Francisco, California
Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA)- Seattle, Washington
Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)- Dulles, Virginia
What Travelers Need to Do
It has been noted by the Department of Homeland Security that they are working closely with TSA and all air carriers. This includes taking steps to identify those passengers affected by these restrictions in advance of their flights into the U.S.
If your flight to the U.S. isn't to one of the 11 designated airports you will be re-routed at no cost to you. Call your airline if you are not notified of any changes. If you have connecting flights within the U.S. You may not be booked on any connecting flights prior to your arrival at one of the 11 designated airports.
American Airlines has released a statement outlining their process for dealing with these restrictions to help travelers understand the process.
What to Expect Upon Arrival
While it's not known exactly what the screening entails when you land in the U.S. expect delays up to a few hours or more. Any travelers exhibiting symptoms of Coronavirus should expect to be quarantined at a nearby facility for further testing.
Travelers that don't exhibit any symptoms of the virus will be re-booked to their final destination and asked to impose self-quarantine at home.
While most cases of the Coronavirus are in China, the U.S. government is taking steps to curtail the spread of the virus. These procedures may be an inconvenience to many travelers. However, they are seen as a necessary step to keep U.S. residents safe. If you are affected by these travel restrictions call your airline to get the latest updates on your flights.
This article has been corrected to note that Hong Kong and Macau were exempted from these restrictions