Spring break is just around the corner and in years past, families who live in the West might have piled in the car and headed for California.
But, as COVID-19 cases surged in fall and winter, the state discouraged tourism as it faced declining ICU bed availability. Regional stay-at-home orders went into effect to prevent travel by residents and tourists alike.
California has since lifted its stay-at-home order, but its statewide quarantine advisories, though not legally enforceable, remain. Some municipalities have their own restrictions based on their current number of cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health both say it is safer to stay home to prevent the spread of the disease. But if you’re considering traveling to California, here’s what you should know.
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Can I travel to California?
Out-of-state travelers can visit California, although some areas have local restrictions.
For instance, Santa Clara County, which includes San Jose and is in the most restrictive level of the statewide reopening due to its number of cases, has a mandatory 10-day quarantine enforced by local law.
“Traveling into California from other states or countries for tourism or recreation is also strongly discouraged,” the state says on its website.
Still, this is an advisory, not a law. California lifted its stay-at-home order on Dec. 3, and airports are open. According to the Visit California website, there are no current testing requirements upon arrival, although the state recommends all incoming visitors self-quarantine for 10 days.
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Can I book a hotel in California?
Yes, hotels are open. The regional travel order keeping hotels from honoring reservations from out-of-town guests was rescinded on Jan. 25. Check with your destination to see if any local restrictions apply.
Do I need to quarantine?
“All persons arriving in or returning to California from other states or countries should self-quarantine for 10 days after arrival, except as necessary to meet urgent critical health-care staffing needs or to otherwise engage in emergency response,” a spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health said in an email to The Arizona Republic.
As of Feb. 26, that quarantine statement is an advisory, not a mandate. California has lifted previous restrictions that barred hotels from renting rooms to out-of-state residents for stays shorter than the recommended quarantine period.
Some localities have their own requirements, however, such as Santa Clara County’s mandatory 10-day quarantine requirement for incoming travelers.
What’s open and what’s closed in California?
In general, beaches are open and restaurants are offering takeaway and outdoor dining.
In many parts of California, these are prohibited or closed:
- Indoor dining.
- Bars and breweries that do not serve food.
- Indoor museums and attractions.
- Indoor live and movie theaters.
- Large events and gatherings.
Check what’s open and closed in your destination at covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy.
National parks are open but some require reservations. Check before you go at nps.gov.
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State parks are open for day use and campground reopening is happening in phases. Check the status of the park of your choice at parks.ca.gov.