This question is about what is permitted by health orders (rather than what is prudent based on personal risk assessment).

I understand there are four reopening stages defined statewide, but each county gets approval to progress through the stages at an appropriate pace based on local conditions. What stage does a given county have to reach for leisure travel/tourism to be permitted there? I would think this answer would be uniform across California, even though different counties are in different stages at a given time.

Per the state page, stage 3 allows "Travel for permissible activities, such as healthcare, food, stages 1-3 work, and [local shopping or other activities] related to open sectors." The phrase in brackets is my correction of mangled text based on a similar phrase used in stage 2. It is unclear to me whether "activities related to open sectors" in stage 3 includes tourism.

One news article says, "Monterey County...will welcome the return of tourism on June 12, when it enters into Stage 3... Hotels and campgrounds will reopen". But another article, for San Francisco, lists "All hotels and lodging for leisure and tourism" only under "Phase 4".

Even if I am not staying overnight in a particular county, this article says, "When planning road trips for the summer, experts say that it's safe to assume that if campgrounds and hotels are open, then travel is appropriate."

Another confusing statement is on a San Francisco government site (updated June 22): "You can fly in and out of the Bay Area only for essential activities or business." This statement is phrased for the entire Bay Area -- but San Mateo County, which is in the Bay Area and the home of San Francisco International Airport (SFO), is currently in stage 3 as of June 17. If I cannot currently fly in or out of SFO for leisure, this seems to indicate that stage 3 may not be sufficient.

For leisure travel in California, do I need to wait until all counties I will pass through are in stage 3, or stage 4?

  • 1
    Do note that whether or not states can even block travel is questionable from a constitutional perspective: blog.harvardlawreview.org/contagion-and-the-right-to-travel
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 25, 2020 at 22:16
  • 1
    @JonathanReez: "Questionable," yes, but civil rights tend to get a lot more... flexible when there's a pandemic. At the very least, it is likely that post-travel quarantines would be upheld even if an outright ban were not.
    – Kevin
    Jun 28, 2020 at 3:22
  • "I would think this answer would be uniform across California, even though different counties are in different stages at a given time." While the state has listed stages, many counties have their own health orders with their own policies. Very little is really statewide, and the county health orders, which can get more restrictive if things go poorly, do not inherently follow the state's phases. I think you need to look at the policies in place in the relevant counties—there's just no statewide answer. Jun 28, 2020 at 7:08
  • I’m voting to close this question because the pandemic is now over.
    – JonathanReez
    Jan 8, 2023 at 16:06


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