Lily Bohlke

DENVER – As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and more cities and businesses reopen, public health and safety officials are urging folks to keep certain precautions in place, especially as they travel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently relaxed mask-wearing and distancing requirements for anyone fully vaccinated – meaning two weeks after their second shot.

But Alex Renteria, public information officer at the Denver International Airport, noted that at the airport, the federal mask mandate is in place until September 13, and travelers will be urged to continue social distancing.

“We are still federally required to wear a mask on premise,” said Renteria. “And that’s not only airports that’s on the plane, on buses, on trains – really, any other form of public transportation traveling into or within the US.”

Renteria added that last week, passenger numbers in the Denver Airport were only down 23-to-24% from pre-pandemic numbers in 2019. She said people are excited to get back out there – though they are often surprised by the crowds, as so many others also want to travel now that they can do so safely.

Dr. Amit Arwindekar, North American medical director with UnitedHealthcare Global, said for people who plan to travel internationally, it’s critical to triple-check novel coronavirus case rates and public health rules in your destination before jetting off – as well as your own health insurance policy.

He noted 80% of countries worldwide still have “Do-Not-Travel” warnings from the U.S. State Department.

“If you get sick, if you need to be hospitalized, or even if you just need to quarantine and they’re going to keep you from getting on the plane,” said Arwindekar, “you should understand, how are you going to pay for that? Is it covered under your plan? And where can you go to get safe, high-quality care in that country?”

He added families with children under age 12 – who are not yet approved to get the COVID vaccine – should try to delay travel for now. He said while the vast majority of young children get mild cases when infected, they can be more likely to spread the virus to other people.