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Negative COVID-19 test required for Washington, DC, visitors from high-risk states: Mayor

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narvikk/iStockBy BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — Most out-of-town visitors to Washington, D.C., from states deemed high-risk for COVID-19, will be required to have a negative test before arriving in the district, but will no longer have to self-quarantine in the city for 14 days, according to an order signed Thursday by the city’s mayor.

With the new order, the nation’s capital joins New York, Connecticut and New Jersey in instituting requirements for visitors to help blunt the spread of the coronavirus amid an alarming increase in infection rates across the country.

“We want people to be safe and smart if they do travel,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a news conference Thursday.

Under the order, people traveling from 42 states that D.C. health officials have deemed high-risk for COVID-19 will be required to test negative for the virus 72 hours before traveling to the nation’s capital. Visitors staying longer than three days will have to take a second test three to five days after their arrival, according to the order.

“Obviously if they get a negative test they should not come to the district,” Bowser said.

She said visitors from the neighboring states of Virginia and Maryland will be exempt from the new requirements.

Bowser also said essential workers coming from out of state will be allowed to carry out their duties prior to getting their second negative test.

Visitors coming to D.C. for 24 hours or less will also be exempt, and people arriving from out of state for funerals or emergencies will not need to obtain a test prior to arriving if doing so is impractical, the mayor said.

She said D.C. residents returning home from out of state should limit their daily activities and self-monitor for 14 days, or get tested three to five days after they arrive home.

The new travel advisory goes into effect on Nov. 9.

Anyone in close contact with people who have tested positive for the virus are advised not to travel to the city, Bowser added.

The mayor also said the city will continue to provide free tests to visitors.

In announcing the new order, Bowser also urged residents not to travel over Thanksgiving or to host large gatherings of out-of-state guests over the upcoming holiday.

“We continue to ask people to limit their travel, but we also know people are going to come here and they’re more than likely not going to quarantine for 14 days if they do,” Bowser said.

Bowser said there are no plans to create “checkpoints” at airports or on highways. But the mayor said that private institutions such as universities, hospitals, hotels, congregate care facilities and houses of worship may ask visitors about their recent travel and can require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before allowing admittance.

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