Travel Restrictions to Prevent the Spread of Disease
To protect the health of the American public, all non-American passengers and crew of the Diamond Princess from the sailing which docked in Yokohama, Japan were placed under travel restrictions by placement on the Do Not Board list, preventing them from traveling to the United States. These passengers and crew will now be required to wait 28 days (two incubation periods) from when the last passenger disembarked the ship (February 24, 2020), before they are permitted to board flights to the United States. Subject to further changes, this restriction shall remain in place until March 23, 2020. Note that American passengers and crew of the ship, whose coronavirus status has been monitored since disembarkation, are under separate travel restrictions.
Disease is just a flight away. To protect America’s health, CDC partners with the Department of Homeland Security to prevent the spread of serious contagious diseases during travel. CDC uses a Do Not Board list to prevent travelers from boarding commercial airplanes if they are known or suspected to have a contagious disease that poses a threat to the public’s health. Sick travelers are also placed on a Lookout list so they will be detected if they attempt to enter the United States by land or sea. These tools can be used for anyone who poses a threat to the public’s health.
Local and state public health officials can request CDC’s assistance if a person who poses a public health threat intends to travel. CDC helps ensure these people do not travel while contagious.
Placing people on the lists
The criteria for adding people to the Do Not Board and Lookout lists are
- Known or believed to be infectious with, or at risk for, a serious contagious disease that poses a public health threat to others during travel; and any of the following three:
- not aware of diagnosis or not following public health recommendations, or
- Likely to travel on a commercial flight involving the United States or travel internationally by any means; or
- Need to issue travel restriction to respond to a public health outbreak or to help enforce a public health order.
Criteria number one plus one of the three subsets must be met for a person to be placed on the Do Not Board and Lookout lists.
Once a person is placed on these lists, airlines will not issue a boarding pass to the person for any commercial flight within, arriving to, or departing from the United States.
To date, the Do Not Board and Lookout lists have been used for people with suspected or confirmed infectious tuberculosis (TB), including multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), and measles. However, travel restrictions can also be used for other suspected or confirmed contagious diseases that could pose a public health threat during travel, including viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola.
Preventing people with contagious diseases from traveling also helps to make sure they get or continue medical treatment, such as for infectious tuberculosis.
Taking people off the lists
Once public health authorities confirm a person is no longer contagious, the person is removed from the lists (typically within 24 hours). Also, CDC reviews the records of all persons on the lists every two weeks to determine whether they are eligible for removal.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Travel Restrictions to Prevent the Spread of Disease