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What are the rules at South Florida airports? You’ll need to know about COVID and parking

·7 min read

Planning to travel for the holidays? You’ll need to do some homework to keep your journey safe and smooth.

Make sure to double-check your itinerary for any COVID restrictions your destination might have put in place. New York City, for example, is requiring proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, museums, Broadway shows. That’s a different world from Florida, which has banned businesses from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination.

Some businesses still have a mask requirement in place, such as Walt Disney World. Cruises have their own COVID vaccine and testing requirements, too.

And if you’re planning to take a flight, beware. It can get confusing.

Here’s a guide to help:

Do you need to be fully vaccinated for domestic and international travel?

If traveling domestically, you do not need to be fully vaccinated. although it’s recommended.

If flying internationally, it depends on where you’re going. Each country has its own vaccination, testing and quarantine rules.

If flying from another country to the U.S., you do not need to be fully vaccinated if you are a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, a legal permanent resident or traveling on an immigrant visa. Foreigners must be fully vaccinated although there are some exceptions, such as kids under 18.

Hey, Curious305: Why is there a man sitting in a box at the Fort Lauderdale airport?

Do you need a COVID test to fly?

To fly domestically, COVID-19 tests are recommended, but not required. To fly internationally, it depends on where you’re going. Each country has its own vaccination, testing and quarantine rules.

If flying to the United States, all international travelers, including American citizens, ages 2 and older, are required to take a COVID-19 test one day before their flight and show proof of a negative result before boarding, regardless of vaccination status. A COVID test is not required if you can show proof that you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days and have recovered. The new rule does not apply to Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.

The Biden administration says the tighter testing requirements are to help stop the spread of the omicron variant, which has been reported in more than 35 countries and several U.S. states, including Florida.

Travelers wait to board a flight at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida, on Tuesday, November 23, 2021.
Travelers wait to board a flight at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida, on Tuesday, November 23, 2021.

How to check the vaccine, testing, quarantine rules for your destination?

Check with your airline or your travel agent (if you used one) for the latest information on whether your destination has any COVID-related entry requirements. You can also check online through the U.S. Department of State website.

An alternative is to use the UNWTO/IATA Destination Tracker, a free online tool that tracks COVID entry rules by country and also provides some info on whether there are stay-at-home requirements or any COVID restrictions affecting transit, attractions and restaurants. This site doesn’t break down the information by city or state, just country.

TIP: Check COVID entry requirements periodically as the trip nears in case changes occur.

Is your Miami or Fort Lauderdale flight delayed or canceled? Here’s how to check

Do you need to take a COVID test 24 hours before your flight to the U.S.?

One day, for the purpose of the order, does not literally mean 24 hours before a flight. It means the COVID-19 test needs to be taken the day before your flight to the United States, regardless of what time your flight is or at what time you took the test, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“For example, if your flight is at 1 p.m. on a Friday, you could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Thursday,” the CDC said.

Where can I get a COVID test in South Florida?

A person prepares to be vaccinated at the Miami-Dade County COVID-19 Community-Based Testing & Vaccination Site at Tropical Park in this October 2021 file photo.
A person prepares to be vaccinated at the Miami-Dade County COVID-19 Community-Based Testing & Vaccination Site at Tropical Park in this October 2021 file photo.

Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport have COVID-19 test sites. Unlike at county-run sites in Miami-Dade and Broward, COVID-19 tests at the airport cost money.

MIA has two sites. One of the sites, run by Communitel, at Concourse E ground level median in front of Door 11, is open 24 hours a day for walk-ins and scheduled appointments. For testing costs or to schedule an appointment, call 305-869-1161.

The other site, run by Nomi Health, near the Concourse H TSA Checkpoint on the departures level at Door 20, is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily for walk-ins and scheduled appointments. For testing costs or to schedule an appointment, visit the Nomi Health website or call 305-280-0694 or toll free at 833-685-0700.

At FLL, the Nomi Health-run testing site is in Terminal 3, pre-security on the lower level near baggage claim, and is accessible only from the curbside through Door 311 (follow directional signs). The site is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily for passengers who provide proof of their FLL arrival or departure flight. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the site will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To schedule an appointment, visit Nomi Health’s FLL weblink. Testing prices can be found on FLL’s website. For questions. call 305-280-0441 or 833-483-1319.

TIP: Use Miami-Dade County’s COVID-19 online test locator and Broward County’s COVID-19 online test locator to find other options in South Florida.

Are masks still required on planes and at the Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports? What about in taxis, Ubers and Lyfts?

Masks are still required in U.S. airports and on planes traveling into, within or out of the United States as part of a federal mask mandate.

The mandate also requires masks inside other “transportation hubs,” including train stations and seaports. Masks must also be worn on other forms of public transportation including buses, trains, taxis, boats, and rideshares like Uber and Lyft. The mandate also applies to Metrorail and Metromover.

You do not need to wear a mask inside your own car.

Travelers crowd the halls as they walk to their terminals at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida in this Nov. 23, 2021 file photo.
Travelers crowd the halls as they walk to their terminals at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida in this Nov. 23, 2021 file photo.

What are the parking options at Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport?

Miami International Airport has two garages and a few charging stations for people with electric vehicles. It also has a cellphone parking lot just off LeJeune Road and Northwest 31st Street where people can park for free while waiting to hear from someone arriving at the airport for pickup. MIA usually has valet, too, but that’s temporarily closed, according to the website.

Dolphin Garage serves Concourse D and E. It’s the best place to park if you’re flying with American Airlines, Qatar Airways, British Airways or JetBlue, according to the airport. Flamingo Garage serves Concourses E-I and is the best place to park if you’re flying with all other airlines, including Delta or Southwest.

If you park in one of the garages, expect to pay $2 every 20 minutes. If your car is parked for more than 2 hours and 40 minutes, you’ll be charged the maximum daily rate of $17, according to the airport. Your car can stay in the garage up to 60 days, except where “no overnight” is listed. After 60 days, your car will be towed.

You can pay for parking at MIA with cash, checks (drawn on U.S. banks), American Express Traveler Checks, and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover). You can also use SunPass Plus.

To find the closest parking location to your terminal, visit MIA’s website.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has three garages and an overflow lot that opens at peak travel times during the holidays or when the garages are full (signs and workers lead you to it). There’s a cellphone parking lot where people can park for free while waiting to pick someone up from the airport. FLL usually has curbside valet, too, but it’s temporarily suspended.

If you park in Hibiscus Garage Level 2 or Palm Garage Level 1, it costs $3 per hour, with a maximum of $36 per day. If you park in Hibiscus Garage Levels 3-7, Palm Garage Levels 2-4 and Cypress Garage Levels 7-9, it costs $3 per hour, with a maximum of $15 per day.

If you end up having to park in the overflow lot, expect to pay $10.

You can pay for FLL parking with cash, checks (starter checks not accepted), and credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover, and Diner’s Club). You can also use SunPass Plus.

TIP: Use the FLL app to see real-time parking availability and to help locate your car if you forget where you parked.

To find the closest parking location to your terminal, visit FLL’s website.

Miami Herald staff writer Anna Jean Kaiser contributed to this report.

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