This blog was written by Labcorp and published with its permission.
As the US and other countries with high vaccination rates continue to open up, travel is rebounding. But as workers return to offices and leave their Zoom-bound lives behind in the coming months, veteran travelers will need to understand the new normal as it pertains to business travel.
Here are answers to some of the most pressing questions business travelers are wondering about.
Do I need a COVID-19 vaccine for US domestic travel?
As of this writing, you don’t need to be vaccinated to travel within the US, but a handful of states and territories have more nuanced travel requirements. Considered to have the strictest entry requirements of any state, Hawaii requires travelers to present either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to bypass a 10-day quarantine. Rhode Island requires that unvaccinated travelers coming from COVID hot spots in the US quarantine for 10 days or present a negative test. Puerto Rico requires either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test; if a visitor arrives with neither, they have to be tested within 48 hours to avoid a $300 fine. Visit CNN.com for an up-to-date list of travel restrictions by state.
What types of tests do states require for travel?
Of the US states and territories that require a negative test (or proof of vaccination), Hawaii’s requirement is the most stringent. It only accepts tests from a list of “trusted testing and travel partners,” which includes major chains like CVS Health and Walgreens and healthcare systems like Kaiser Permanente. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico and Rhode Island accept either a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or an antigen test.
What is the difference between a PCR test and an antigen test?
Both tests are used to detect an active COVID-19 infection, but a PCR test is much more reliable and accurate. It detects ribonucleic acid (RNA) specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and typically has a two- to three-day turnaround time. An antigen test (more commonly known as a “rapid” test) detects protein fragments specific to the novel coronavirus and has a much higher rate of false negatives. The upside is that people can get their results in 15 minutes.
What requirements do specific countries have?
Much of the world is still closed to international travelers, but the European Union notably added the US to its “safe travel” list in June – though each of the 27 member states can still impose its own testing or quarantine requirements or restrict specific nationalities. For example, Ireland still requires a negative PCR test regardless of vaccination status, while Germany accepts proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from COVID-19, or a negative test result for entry. To explore the rules for each EU member state, visit the official Re-open EU website.
Also bear in mind that if you have a layover in a third country, their rules may also apply. For example, if you’re traveling to Berlin and have a layover in London, you may need a negative PCR test in addition to proof of vaccination in order to comply with the UK’s requirements.
Where can I get a PCR test?
PCR tests can be procured in a wide range of settings, from pharmacies and grocery stores to hospitals and healthcare providers to facilities set up by local governments.
One leading provider for COVID-19 testing is Labcorp, which has administered 44 million PCR tests to date. It’s the lab provider for thousands of hospitals, doctor’s offices, and drive-through testing facilities, and it also offers group and employer programs for companies and other large organizations. Specifically, it designs custom screening and testing programs for businesses that need to test their employees regularly or at a large meeting or conference; testing can be administered on-site at offices or the specific meeting location, as well as through self-collection kits that employees use at home.
Finally, Labcorp has a direct-to-consumer offering called Pixel that enables anyone to purchase a test kit (or pick one up from their local Walgreens), collect a sample using a short nasal swab, place it in a prepaid FedEx package to ship to a lab, and access results online within 1-2 days of receipt.
If you need a PCR test for an upcoming business trip, Pixel by Labcorp’s at-home collection kits may be a convenient option to use at home or pack in your luggage. Click here for more information or to purchase one for yourself or employees through a small business group discount. The kits have emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for people ages 2+, which also make it a great option for families who have children in camp, school, or traveling. For any locations that require a test, please always check the guidelines for your destination first to make sure that self-collection kits are acceptable.
Pixel by Labcorp offers this test and collection kit with an FDA Emergency Use Authorization. This means that while the laboratory performing this test has validation data to support offering this test and the collection kit, neither have been approved or cleared by the FDA. This test has only been authorized by FDA for detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2 (i.e., the COVID-19 virus), and not for any other virus or pathogen. It is only authorized during the duration of the COVID-19 emergency declaration by federal regulators. Labcorp may modify or cease to offer the test and the test kit upon direction of state or federal regulators in its sole discretion. Please see the Patient Fact Sheet and the Health Care Provider Fact Sheet for additional information.