I have a flight to the US (from Argentina) on Feb 14 arriving Feb 15, departing Feb 18.

I wanted to buy some things on President's day, and go to Universal on 16th, and Disney on 17th.

USA already requests negative PCR test before traveling.

So what now? What problems could I face if I stick to my plan?

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    Right now I don't think anyone can give an exact answer - the executive order says that they will aim to implement quarantine, and it will be in line with CDC guidelines, but it does not state what the exact rules will be. However, it's very difficult to imagine any kind of quarantine rule that allows a four-day trip with shopping and visiting tourist attractions... Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 21:28
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    I must be living on a different planet. On mine there’s a virus spreading all over which already killed 2 million people and the last thing you would want to do is travel everywhere for leisure and visit places where there could be lots of people...
    – jcaron
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 21:36
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    Well, you wont be travelling the the US for just 4 days and still be doing all those things... Thats kinda the point. To stop people like you potentially bringing the virus in just for non-essential travel reasons. You want to travel for 4 days plus the mandatory quarantine at a minimum.
    – user29788
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 22:19
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    @JorgeeFG you are going to Universal and Disney - unless you are going to a practical job interview or to buy the parks themselves, its non-essential travel. Non-PCR test only means you tested negative at that exact moment the test was taken, not a moment afterward - its like relying on a negative pregnancy test as birth control.
    – user29788
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 22:44
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    @JonathanReez ugh don't suggest people come to Mexico! Despite having little to no COVID travel rules, much of Mexico is still on lockdown (started March 2020) and COVID is widespread here. They're not restricting travel in, and some of the tourist areas are BUSY - it brings in a LOT of money - but many of the locals are out of work, food, home, because of the lockdowns, and these just won't stop while there's such an influx of tourists that can't go anywhere else
    – Midavalo
    Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


tl;dr version

You can probably get away with what you are planning. But if you choose to do so I will consider you to be the sort of person who does not care for the wellbeing of yourself or (more importantly) other people around you.

Long version

Biden's executive order can be found here

In the case of the OP the relevant paragraph is probably:

Sec. 5. International Travel.


(ii) required to comply with other applicable CDC guidelines concerning international travel, including recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the United States.

The CDC recommendations can be found here. The CDC only recommends quarantine:

If you participated in higher-risk activities during your international travel

Which are listed as (my emphasis):

  • Travel from a country or U.S. territory with a Level 2, Level 3, or Level 4 Travel Health Notice.

  • Going to a large social gathering like a wedding, funeral, or party.

  • Attending a mass gathering like a sporting event, concert, or parade.

  • Being in crowds like in restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters.

  • Taking public transportation like trains or buses or being in transportation hubs like airports.

  • Traveling on a cruise ship or river boat.

But the site also says

You may have been exposed to COVID-19 on your travels. You may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can be contagious without symptoms and spread the virus to others. You and your travel companions (including children) pose a risk to your family, friends, and community for 14 days after you travel.

At this point I'll point out that a negative PCR test only shows you were negative (within the bounds of the accuracy of the test) at the time you took the test. So there is scope for being infected after you have taken your test, and the more people you are around, the higher the chance of encountering someone who could infect you.

The CDC site also says

Always follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel.

My state has mandatory 14 day quarantine for any out of state visitors. And the penalty for breaking that quarantine can be:

Non-compliant individuals are subject to involuntary quarantine by the New Mexico Department of Health under the Public Health Emergency Response Act.

So at the Federal and CDC level they talk about recommendations only. At the state level it becomes more strict and there can be actual penalties.

But no one that I know of is currently suggesting GPS monitoring (a la Cayman Islands) for the US. So adhering to the restrictions is up to you to follow. However last year at least some tourists in Hawaii were arrested for breaking local quarantine restrictions.

  • Minor comment: if OP already had COVID (not unlikely, based on the deaths count 20+% of Argentina already had COVID) or was already vaccinated, the equation changes and its likely safe to travel. Otherwise agreed - safer to stay home currently.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 22:31
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    @JonathanReez There have been reports of people getting covid more than once. And while I agree that getting vaccinated is the thing to do, none of the current guidelines even address that possibility - so that aspect is currently up in the air
    – Peter M
    Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 22:35
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    Actually, a negative PCR test shows you were negative a few days before the test. During the incubation period, you already have the virus, but still test negative. So a positive test says you have the virus. A negative test does not mean anything at all.
    – jcaron
    Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 23:39
  • @jcaron to be safe you should follow the NZ golden standard and self isolate for 14 days after which you do a COVID test. Then wear an N95 mask at all times around others, especially on the flight. Otherwise yes, the test is not a guarantee.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 7:29

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