5 things you need to know as more Mass. residents plan vacations

WALPOLE, Mass. — Katie Donoghue said no one wanted to even talk about traveling a few weeks ago, at the height of the second COVID-19 surge.

“Really it just continued what started in March, and that was the loss of 95% of our business,” said Donoghue, a travel agent for Cruise Planners in Walpole.

With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the country trending downward, Donoghue said people are getting the itch again to go on a trip.

“The last two to three weeks have just completely turned things around,” she said.

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Massachusetts travel order remains in effect

The Massachusetts travel order has been in place since Aug. 1. It requires all visitors entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, to fill out a travel form and either quarantine for 10 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test.

Travelers at Logan International Airport said it doesn’t appear to be strictly enforced.

“Yeah, it’s not being enforced at all and I don’t feel like anybody is keeping track. Like, people are just coming and going,” said Samariah Adams, a vaccinated health care worker from Randolph.

We know the Massachusetts travel order is based largely on the honor system. When we asked the governor’s office and Department of Public Health if anyone had been fined for violating state restrictions, we were told that information was unavailable.

“As the Travel Order makes clear, enforcement is a shared responsibility between the state and local health departments; because of this system there is not a list of fines collected,” the state spokesperson said.

Research restrictions at your destination

Donoghue said people are already booking trips for as early as April to places like Florida, Aruba, and Turks and Caicos. But Donoghue said other states and countries have their own restrictions, so vacationers need to consider what’s required when their plane lands in a new destination.

“The biggest worry for people that I’m seeing is that testing on-site in those other international locations,” Donoghue said.

Do I need travel insurance?

Donoghue said she is strongly recommending travel insurance to her clients.

“Travel insurance is going to be a necessary component to any travel budget if the travelers want peace of mind,” she said.

“Luckily, I work with some great vendors that offer cancel ‘for any reason’ insurance policies at reasonable rates, which really protects my clients from losing their investments.”

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Are hotels and airlines allowing cancellations?

Donoghue said yes, but maybe not for long.

“A lot of airlines and hotels have lenient cancellation policies; however, that is going to quickly start to go away,” she said.

Plan your quarantine or testing for your return

Donoghue said she believes most of her clients are aware of the travel restrictions in Massachusetts and are following them when they get back from a trip.

“I think that people have started to plan their quarantine here in Massachusetts into their schedule. So they know, when they come back, they need to test and they need to stay home until that test comes back,” she said.

The CDC is still advising against travel. The CDC’s website said traveling increases the chance of spreading the virus and asks you to delay traveling if you can.

“The pandemic isn’t over,” Tufts Medical Center Epidemiologist Dr. Shira Doron said.

“The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the CDC are saying don’t travel, don’t move the virus around, don’t move different strains around from where they are to somewhere else. That makes sense,” Dr. Doron said.

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