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Retracting the Welcome Mat: States Can Restrict Travel Over COVID Concerns

Brian Stansberry, via Creative Commons

When you want to travel from Tennessee to another state, it’s as easy and hopping in your car and hitting the road. There are no checkpoints, no passports, no restrictions. Until now.

As states try to keep COVID-19 cases at bay, they’re imposing some new rules for people traveling across their borders. Police officers in Delaware have been given the power to stop people with out-of-state plates and ask about their recent travel. Roadside checkpoints have been set up in Florida. Other states, including Kentucky, are requiring travelers to self-quarantine for two weeks after entering the state.

For Americans used to the idea of easy travel, these changes raise a big question: Is this legal? The answer, according to constitutional scholar Stewart Harris, is yes.

Harris, a professor at the Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law, spoke with WUOT’s Brandon Hollingsworth. Harris is also host of the series Your Weekly Constitutional, heard Monday nights at 7:00 on WUOT-2.