As of Saturday morning, New Hampshire and Maine were removed from the lower-risk travel list for contracting COVID-19, and individuals entering or returning to Massachusetts from either state must now fill out a travel form, quarantine, or have a negative COVID-19 test, according to the Department of Public Health.
New Hampshire and Maine joined 46 other states to be designated high risk for COVID-19. Hawaii and Vermont are the only remaining states considered low risk, meaning individuals do not need to adhere to the travel orders upon arrival or return to Massachusetts. Other exemptions include commuters who cross state lines for work, those arriving for medical treatment, military personnel, and those who are traveling for work or essential services. The state also exempts certain short, same-day trips across the border and back that are designated as “critical life activities.”
Under the current travel rules, anyone entering Massachusetts from states considered high risk are required to fill out a Massachusetts Travel Form and quarantine for two weeks unless they can produce a negative result from a COVID-19 test administered no more than 72 hours before they arrive in the state. Failure to comply with the requirements could result in a $500 per day fine.
According to the DPH, states are included on the list if they average more than 10 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.
New Hampshire and Maine respectively averaged 27 and 14 new cases per 100,000 residents on Friday, according the COVID-19 tracking website. Vermont also averaged above 10 new cases per 100,000 residents this week — but not last week. States must exceed the threshold for two straight weeks to be removed from the lower-risk list. Massachusetts averaged nearly 38 cases per 100,000 residents as of Friday.
The new travel rules come less than a week before Thanksgiving, when many are pondering travel despite guidance from public health officials that people should stay home for the holidays. Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that travel increases your chance of contracting and spreading COVID-19, and if you must venture out, they recommend that you get a flu shot, bring along extra masks and hand sanitizer, and be aware of the latest travel restrictions.