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Visiting Cape Cod During Covid-19
2021 Updates & Outlook

Updated: February 8, 2021

Now that Cape Cod summer vacation time is just around the corner, I've been getting lots of Coronavirus-related questions about the current Covid-19 situation on the Cape and the outlook for the upcoming tourism season.

Man walking his dog on the beach at sunset"Social Distancing" at Sunset

I've created this page to keep you up-to-date on the latest Covid rules and restrictions, and to give you some tips for visiting Cape Cod in these ever-changing times.

What's On This Page

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*Important: As the Coronavirus situation evolves, the information on this page will change. So please bookmark this page and check back for updates.

Better still ... sign up for my newsletter to be notified when I update this page!

Travel & Quarantine

Massachusetts Requirements

If you're coming from any state other than Hawaii, you must:

  1. Fill out and submit the Massachusetts Travel Form before arriving in MA; and
  2. Be prepared to prove that you've tested negative for COVID-19 within 72-hours before your arrival in Massachusetts. 

If you can't provide the required proof, then you must quarantine for the first 10 days of your stay in MA or until you receive a negative test result - whichever comes first.

See the official Massachusetts website for full details and exceptions to the Covid-19 travel orders.

And please, please, please don't ignore the rules. If you're caught, you'll be subject to a fine of $500 per day. It's not worth taking that risk!

Federal Requirements

New federal rules and guidelines went into effect in January, 2021.

Cross-border driving between the US, Canada and Mexico is still restricted to "essential" travel only.

*REMINDER* Additional rules and restrictions apply for international travel to the US. Please see the CDC website for details. 

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Hotels, Motels, Resorts & Inns

The Cape's year-round lodgings are open with strict sanitization, social distancing and mask-wearing protocols in place.

Under the orders currently in place, there are no restrictions on the number of guest rooms they may rent. But ...

Capacity in lobbies and other common areas is limited to 40% of maximum. And large gatherings like business meetings, parties, wedding receptions, etc., are still prohibited.

Due to these restrictions, some services and amenities (e.g., pool, gym facilities, free continental breakfast, etc.) may be limited or unavailable.

Vacation Rentals

Cape Cod vacation rentals offer much more freedom, flexibility in choice of location, and safety from exposure to other people than hotels, resorts or inns can provide.

But ...

The rules about large gatherings still apply, even at your "home away from home" here on the Cape:

  • no more than 10 people indoors*; and
  • no more than 25 people outdoors.

*Note: As long as the only people present are members of the same household, these limitations don't apply.

But be careful about this! If any non-household member is there, then you must limit the size of the group.      

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Eating & Drinking


Restaurants are open for indoor and outdoor service as well as for take-out and delivery (where available). 

Seating is restricted to no more than 40% of capacity. Tables are adequately spaced for social distancing, and masks are required at all times when you're not actively eating or drinking.

A 90-minute time limit for each party to occupy their table encourages a relatively quick turn-over, even at a busy restaurant. (That said, I still recommend making a reservation whenever possible!) 

Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries

To summarize in a few words: no on-site food service, no on-site alcohol service.

Here's the protocol ...

"Alcoholic beverages may only be served for on-site consumption if accompanied by food prepared on-site. Potato chips, pretzels, and other pre-packaged shelf stable foods, or other food prepared off-site, do not constitute food “prepared on-site.”

"For each customer, an item of prepared food must be ordered at the same time as an initial alcoholic beverage(s) order. One or more shareable food item(s) may be ordered, as long as it/they would sufficiently serve the number of people at the table."

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Supermarkets & Grocery Stores

As essential businesses, our local supermarkets and grocery stores have been open all along.

Masks are required, as is social distancing.

Retail Stores & Shopping Malls

It's off-season now, so many of the smaller shops on the Cape are closed for the winter or open just a few days a week.  

The stores that operate year-round are open for in-person shopping under a limited occupancy restriction (40%). That includes our two primary retail centers - Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis and Mashpee Commons in Mashpee - as well as the smaller "mom and pop" shops and boutiques all across the Cape.

As you might have guessed, social distancing and face masks are required in all retail establishments.

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Activities & Events


Our beaches, bike paths, and hiking trails are open, as they have been throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

Social distancing is required. But at this time of year, that's easy to do! ;-)


Not surprisingly, many of this winter's indoor activities, attractions and events have been canceled or postponed to a later date. Others have "gone virtual".

That said, some Cape Cod museums are open to visitors this winter - on a limited schedule with reduced occupancy and other Covid-19 protocols in place, of course!

Tip: Here are a few of my favorites ... 

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Outlook for the 2021 Season

Along with all the other changes we've faced in the last year, there's a "new normal" for Cape Cod vacation planning, too.

Here's what I foresee for the upcoming season, along with some tips to make your planning a breeze and your vacation the best ...

Lodging Accommodations

When lodgings were allowed to re-open back in 2020, lodging reservations went like wildfire. This year, it's happening earlier than ever. 

I'm already seeing many
vacation rental properties  booked solid for the months of July and August. Vacancies in June and September are being snapped up quickly, too.

It's a little easier to find vacancies at our local hotels, motels, resorts and inns. But ... I wouldn't wait too long to reserve a room. I expect last-minute vacancies will be as tough to come by as they were last year. 

And let's not forget campgrounds. Given the increased  popularity of camping in these social-distancing times, it's not surprising that the most sought-after camping spots on Cape Cod go quickly. So it's best to reserve your campsite as early as possible, too.

Activities, Attractions & Events

With the ever-evolving virus situation, it's impossible to say with certainty which activities, attractions and special events will be back this year.

I'm optimistic that many of our favorites like whale watch cruises, outdoor concerts, drive in-movies, and farmers' markets will go on as they did last year.

Will the things we missed last year - like July 4th fireworks displays, live performances at the Melody Tent, and our big summer and fall festivals - be back in 2021? I'll keep you posted as the sponsors let us know.

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Do you have a Covid-related vacation question that I haven't answered on this page? Feel free to ask it in the "Comments" section below!

Related Pages:

Find a Vacation Rental

Top Beachfront Hotels, Motels & Inns

Directory of Campgrounds

Favorite Activities & Attractions

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