MA travel order: State releases new guidance surrounding college move-in, visitation

MA travel order: State releases new guidance surrounding college move-in, visitation

BOSTON — Massachusetts officials have released further guidance regarding its current travel order.

Under the order, anyone coming from a state that has not been deemed a “lower-risk COVID state” has to fill out the “Massachusetts Travel Form” or text “MATraveler” to 888-777. You also must quarantine for 14 or provide a negative COVID-19 test.

The state’s updated information released Thursday highlights travel scenarios including parents visiting college students:

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1. Does this apply to students arriving from other States or foreign countries to attend college or university or boarding school? 

  • Yes. The travel rule applies to all persons entering Massachusetts from any point of origin.  A student who enters Massachusetts from any place not included on the list of COVID-19 lower-risk States must quarantine for 14 days if the student cannot provide proof of a negative test result that meets the standards of the 72-hour test rule.

2. Does the rule apply to parents, guardians and family members who are dropping their students off for boarding school or college/university?

  • Yes. If a parent/guardian/family member is entering Massachusetts only to drop off the student and then immediately leaves the campus and the state, then they would meet the exemption of transitory travel.  If they are staying overnight, then they are subject to the requirements of the travel order. 
  • Parents, guardians, and family members who do not meet the transitory travel exemption and are coming into Massachusetts from any place other than a COVID-19 lower-risk State are required to either receive a negative test within 72 hours of coming into Massachusetts or quarantine for 14 days.

3. Where can I report concerns I may have about non-compliance with the order? 

4. If I develop symptoms but had a negative test what should I do?

  • The 72-hour test is a diagnostic test that is a point in time clinical measurement. If you develop symptoms, you may need to be tested again and may need medical attention.

5. I received a call that I should go into quarantine because I was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. My test came back negative 3 days ago. Do I still need to quarantine?

  • Yes. If you were exposed to someone known to be COVID-19 positive, then you are at increased risk of becoming positive and will need to quarantine for 14 days in your home state.

6. I had an antigen test which was negative, do I need to be tested again? 

  • Yes, a negative antigen test must be confirmed by a negative result from an FDA EUA-approved molecular (PCR) SARS-CoV2 test on a sample obtained 72 hours or less prior to arrival in Massachusetts.

7. I plan to arrive in Massachusetts on, or before, July 31, 2020, do I need to fill out the travel form?

  • No

8. I am traveling with my children from a non-lower-risk State. I took a test and have my negative result. Do my kids need a test for COVID-19 as well?

  • It depends on each child’s age. If your child is 10 or younger, then the child does not need a test. If the child is 11 or older, then the child needs to be tested or will need to quarantine for 14 days, unless an exemption criteria applies.

9. I am a MA resident returning home after traveling to a state that is not considered lower risk.  I have proof of a negative test result on a sample taken before my out-of-state travel, and because I was out of state only for 48 hours, I am returning within 72 hours of the time the sample was taken. Can I use my negative test results taken before I left to satisfy the 72-hour testing rule and avoid quarantine?

  • No, you must quarantine or obtain a new test upon return, unless you meet another exemption.

10. I am a MA resident and I provide Critical Infrastructure Services.  I plan to go on vacation to Florida with my family. Do I need to quarantine when I return home from Florida?

  • Yes. Workers who travel from Massachusetts for personal or leisure reasons cannot rely on the Critical Infrastructure Worker exemption upon return. You must either quarantine or satisfy the testing rule. Your status as a Critical Infrastructure Worker does not allow you to break quarantine—even to do that specialized work—following travel for personal or leisure reasons.
  • Likewise, a Critical Infrastructure Worker who comes to Massachusetts for personal or leisure reasons cannot rely on the Critical Infrastructure Worker exemption upon arrival and must either quarantine or satisfy the testing rule.

11. I am dropping my child off at college in another state that is not considered lower risk. Do I need to quarantine when I come home?

  • It depends. If a parent/guardian/family member is entering a non-lower-risk state only to drop off the student and then immediately leaves the campus and the state, then they would meet the exemption of transitory travel.  If they are staying overnight, then they are subject to the quarantine requirement upon return or must meet the testing rule.

12. I am entering Massachusetts but do not need to fill out the travel form because I meet an exemption. Do I need written documentation demonstrating that I meet the exemption criteria?

  • No.

13. I am visiting my relative in Massachusetts. I live in a non-lower-risk state. I plan to quarantine in my relative’s home. Does my relative need to quarantine as well?

  • No. You should stay in a separate room from your relative. However, your presence in your relative’s home does not require your relative to quarantine.

14. I am traveling to MA from a non-lower-risk state and do not meet an exemption criteria. I previously had COVID-19, I isolated pursuant to CDC guidelines and was released from isolation, do I still need to quarantine or meet the testing rule?

  • Yes. You must quarantine upon arrival or meet the testing rule.
  • If you took a test within 72 hours of your arrival and it came back positive due to your previous infection, you can use the positive test result plus a note from your doctor documenting your previous diagnosis and recovery to satisfy the testing rule.

15. Can international travelers get tested in another country before arriving?

  • Yes, provided that they take a molecular (PCR) SARS-CoV2 test on a sample obtained 72 hours or less prior to arrival in Massachusetts that is authorized by their Government.

16. I am a MA resident and went on vacation to a non-lower-risk state. Can I get a test in that state 72 hours before I come home to avoid the quarantine requirement?

  • Yes, provided the test meets the DPH specifications.

17. I am a MA resident and I am required to travel from MA to a non-lower-risk state at the direction of the Military. Do I need to fill out the form and quarantine when I come home?

  • No. Massachusetts residents who go out of state for military work and then return back to Massachusetts meet the military exemption.

18.  May travelers from places other than lower-risk states be exempt from the Travel Order requirements if traveling for the purpose of running errands like going to the grocery store or pharmacy?

  • Travelers are exempt from the requirements to fill out the Travel Form and self-quarantine or obtain a negative COVID-19 test result if their travel is limited to brief trips for purposes that the Commissioner has designated as Critical Life Activities.  This allowance is limited to short, same-day trips across the border and back for the following purposes:  grocery shopping, visits to pharmacies, attending appointments with licensed health care providers including medical, dental, or mental health,, visiting persons receiving treatment in hospitals or residing in congregate care settings, attendance at day care or children’s camps, attending religious services and funerals or memorial services, or attending to the care needs of family members.
  • During such trips, travelers are instructed to wear face-coverings, maintain social distance, practice good hygiene, and adhere to all other COVID-19 rules and restrictions.

19.  I am a resident of RI attending a wedding in MA. Is the wedding considered a Commissioner’s Exemption under “religious services?”

  • The wedding service itself can be considered an exemption as a religious service.  However, any reception or celebration which either precedes or follows the ceremony is not exempted and requires either quarantining or a 72 hour negative test result in order to attend.

20.  Are parents, guardians, and children required to comply with the Travel Order if traveling for the purpose of managing shared custody of a child?

  • Children who travel into and out of Massachusetts because of transfers of custody or visitation between parents or guardians are exempt from the requirements of the order.  Parents and guardians may rely on the transitory travel exemption, provided they comply with its limitations. 

21.  Other states’ travel restrictions include exemptions for trips that last less than 24 hours. Does Massachusetts have a similar exemption?

  • No, there is no specific exemption for trips that last less than 24 hours.  Such short trips may be covered by exemptions like the ones for transitory travel or commuting for work or school.  The full list of exemptions is here.  Travelers arriving from places other than lower-risk States must fill out the Travel Form and self-quarantine or obtain a negative test result if they do not meet one of these exemptions.

22.  I am looking to be exempt from the requirement to self-quarantine by obtaining a negative COVID-19 test, but I am unable to get tested in the state that I am traveling from. What can I do?

  • A traveler who is required to quarantine may be released from the obligation to continue quarantining upon obtaining proof of a COVID-19 negative test, which was administered after the person’s arrival in Massachusetts. Travelers are required to quarantine immediately upon arrival in Massachusetts but may temporarily break quarantine to receive testing.  Travelers must arrange for the test at their own expense and then are required to immediately continue quarantining until receiving a negative test result or the 14 days is complete. Guidance on how to obtain a test in Massachusetts can be found here.

23.  After completing the Travel Form, do I need to keep a copy of my submission on-hand?

  • You should keep the documentation with you.  If you obtained a negative COVID-19 test result to be exempt from the self-quarantine requirement you should be prepared to produce those results upon request.

24. I am traveling to Massachusetts from Puerto Rico (or some other United States Territory).  How does the Travel Order apply to me?

  • For the purposes of the Travel Order the following U.S. jurisdictions are treated as States:
  • District of Columbia
  • Puerto Rico
  • USVI
  • Guam
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • American Samoa
  • None of these areas is currently classified as a lower-risk State, so travelers arriving from any of these places are required to fill out the Travel Form and self-quarantine or be prepared to produce a negative COVID-19 test result if they do not fall within one of the enumerated exceptions.

23.  My child attends day care or day camp in MA or RI.  Does he or she need to test or quarantine each day?

  • No. Children who travel into or out of Massachusetts to attend day care or day camps are not required to comply with the Travel Order, and a parent or guardian transporting the child may rely on the transitory travel exemption, provided they comply with its limitations.

24. I live in Rhode Island and have a child or other family member receiving specialized medical care in MA.  Can I visit them without quarantining or receiving a negative COVID test result?

  • Yes.  See response question number 18 above, which explains the Commissioner’s limited exception for Critical Life Activities.

 25. What are the Commissioner’s exceptions for Critical Life Activities?

  • grocery shopping
  • visits to pharmacies
  • attending appointments with licensed health care providers, including medical, dental, or mental health
  • visiting persons receiving treatment in hospitals or residing in congregate care facilities
  • attendance at day care or children’s camps
  • attending religious services, and funerals or memorial services
  • attending to the care needs of a family member


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