The CDC holiday travel guidelines have been released for the 2021 season, and they are pretty much what you would expect.

The biggest one is that the CDC recommends delaying any holiday travel until you are fully vaccinated against coronavirus, which includes a three-week wait after your last shot for your immune system to fully respond. While vaccinated people can still catch the virus, they are significantly less likely to develop symptoms (which means much less likely to spread the virus), to become seriously ill, or to die.

If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, or if you are traveling with those who can’t be vaccinated such as children under 12, follow the Domestic Travel or International Travel guidelines for unvaccinated people, which includes getting tested, wearing a mask at all times, choosing travel options which allow for social distancing, and isolating both at your destination and upon your return.

Even if you’re fully vaccinated, all public transport in the United States still requires wearing masks. Don’t try to skirt this requirement by sipping on a coffee or snacking the entire time; this is why many airlines have stopped even snack service since the beginning of the pandemic.

COVID-19, both in its original strain and the more virulent and lethal delta strain, is still a very serious risk. On October 1, 2021, there were nearly 120,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S., and over 2,000 deaths. The CDC holiday travel guidelines are meant to help prevent another peak like we had in mid-September, from which we’ve only just began to recover. Last Christmas, for instance, immediately preceded a peak of nearly 300,000 new cases and over 3,200 deaths a day.

The CDC also has a page with a number of safer holiday activities, including outdoor celebrations, virtual events, and door-to-door gift-giving or food-sharing.

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