COVI-Plan: A Behavioral Intervention to improve COVID specific travel compliance

Lindsay Temes, Jennifer Hosey, and Anirban Ghosh

Compliance with Massachusetts COVID travel restrictions is low, and the requirements are not known to most travelers. Even those who are aware of the restrictions have to deal with the problem's ever-changing nature. We designed a digital plan-making tool integrated with an airline's online check-in system to increase compliance with the COVID-19 specific requirements to address this problem.

Anyone entering Massachusetts who does not meet an exemption must complete the Massachusetts Travel Form before arrival unless the traveler is visiting from a lower-risk state determined by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Additionally, the traveler must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or produce a negative COVID-19 test result administered up to 72-hours before arrival in Massachusetts. If a test result has not been received before travel, visitors and residents must quarantine until they receive a negative test result. Failure to comply with the quarantine requirement or completion of the Massachusetts Travel Form could result in a civil fine of $500 per day. However, compliance with the regulation is very low in Massachusetts.


We believe that the problem arises from the following issues: 

  • Lack of awareness of the said restrictions 

  • Cognitive overload of the ever-changing list of restrictions

  • Complicated list of requirements that are hard to follow 

Asset 3pressure.png

This intervention uses a 3-stage workflow presented to the person flying into Massachusetts that begins after the user clicks on the link from their airline's online check-in page.


  1. First, the user is directed to the airline travel requirements page upon online check-in for a flight (this already exists for major airlines); in addition to the airline requirements, the user is provided the link to view the Massachusetts Travel Guidelines and to fill out the Travel form on the same page directly. These are "defaults" for the user, and the user has to uncheck these boxes to by-pass step 2 manually. 

  2. Suppose the user leaves the default options as is. In that case, they are directed to acknowledge the Travel Guidelines and to fill out the Travel Form. If they opt-out of the Travel form, they will continue to step 3. 

    • The Massachusetts Travel Guidelines link will be presented as a pop-up window (similar to reviewing the Terms and Conditions of a website). The Massachusetts Travel Form link will be simplified from the current form (hosted by, with pre-populated fields such as name, location, etc. that are auto-filled with the traveler's information (to reduce friction for the user). Upon completion, the user will be emailed a copy of their filled form with a QR code.

  3. Finally, the user is presented with a planning prompt to plan their compliance with the specific COVID restrictions. A copy of the plan will be emailed to the user, and a link will be texted to the user. Additionally, the user will be auto-enrolled in the state COVID updates via text (with an option to opt-out).

The hypothesis for the intervention:

  1. The direct connection and acknowledgment upon check-in reduces friction. 

  2. Planning improves compliance for meeting the COVID restrictions.

  3. Designing the choice architecture to reduce friction would help reduce cognitive overload.

  4. Opt-in by default into receiving updates ensures sure more people receive the updated information.

  5. Loss-framing the fine would lead to higher compliance.


  1. Massachusetts Travel Form (2020),

  2. COVID-19 Travel Order (2020),

  3. Mike Beaudet, (2020), Massachusetts travel order lacks enforcement, records show, WCVB

  4. David W. Nickerson, & Todd Rogers. (2010). Do You Have a Voting Plan? Implementation Intentions, Voter Turnout, and Organic Plan Making. Psychological Science, 21(2), 194-199.

  5. Gollwitzer, Peter M, & Sheeran, Paschal. (2006). Implementation Intentions and Goal Achievement: A Meta‐analysis of Effects and Processes. In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 38, pp. 69-119). Elsevier.

  6. Gollwitzer, P. M. (1999). Implementation Intentions. The American Psychologist, 54(7), 493-503.

  7. Schwartz, B. (2016). The paradox of choice: Why more is less (Revised ed.). New York: Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins.

  8. Matesanz, R, Marazuela, R, Coll, E, Mahíllo, B, & Domínguez‐Gil, B. (2017). About the Opt‐Out System, Live Transplantation, and Information to the Public on Organ Donation in Spain … Y olé. American Journal of Transplantation, 17(6), 1695-1696.

  9. Bellé, Nicola, Cantarelli, Paola, & Belardinelli, Paolo. (2018). Prospect Theory Goes Public: Experimental Evidence on Cognitive Biases in Public Policy and Management Decisions. Public Administration Review, 78(6), 828-840.

  10. Massachusetts General Assembly. Joint Committee on Public Health 

  11. Meryl Chertoff, (2020), The Right to Travel and National Quarantines: Coronavirus Tests the Limits. Georgetown Law, Georgetown Law

  12. State of Hawai'i Safe Travels Hawai'i Program (2020),