The U.S. is imposing stricter testing rules for international travel to prevent the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the country.
This post will look at what we know about the new testing requirements so far.
U.S. Imposing Stricter Testing Rules Due To Omicron
Over the weekend, the U.S. announced that they would heavily restrict travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi. Only U.S. citizens and legal residents can travel into the U.S. from the countries.
By next week, the U.S. will tighten entry requirements further by shortening the timeline of the testing rules.
Current U.S. entry requirements require all incoming arrivals to take a negative Covid-19 test within 3-days of their flight.
On Tuesday, a Whitehouse official said that Biden administration officials were evaluating a requirement that all incoming international travelers would have to obtain a negative Covid-19 test just one day before their trip, shortening the window by two days.
Update since publishing – On December 2, 2021, Biden confirmed the 1-day test requirement changes are coming and should be in place by next week.
It was reported that the stricter testing rules are being discussed ahead of a speech on Thursday, in which Biden is expected to propose a plan to tackle the surge of Covid cases.
Since then, three White House officials have confirmed that a tightened testing window is coming.
The officials acknowledged that additional quarantine measures are under consideration but said there are no current plans to implement any.
The new requirements come ahead of another busy holiday travel period, with Christmas less than a month away. The number of Americans traveling over the Thanksgiving period set a new pandemic record.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said the travel restrictions won’t “permanently keep out a variant” but can buy time to “vaccinate more people, learn more about the variant [and] work on strengthening even further travel safety measures, including testing.”
“The CDC is considering a number of measures — right now, it hasn’t fully decided on what it’s implementing,” Murthy continued. “But I do believe some of the measures it’s considering will have a substantial impact on our ability to detect the virus before it arrives here.”
CDC Confirms It Is Working On Modifying Entry Requirements
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that it is working on modifying the current global testing order for travel as more data comes in on the Omicron variant.
Director of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, said the agency was examining “how to make international travel as safe as possible, including pre-departure testing closer to the time of flight, and considerations around additional post-arrival testing and self-quarantines.”
A spokesperson for CDC said:
“A revised order would shorten the timeline for required testing for all international air travelers to one day before departure to the United States. This strengthens already robust protocols in place for international travel, including requirements for foreign travelers to be fully vaccinated.”
Will There Be More Restrictions In The U.S.?
Biden has repeated that Americans should not panic about the new variant, which has not yet been detected in the U.S.
He said that the plan to tackle Covid would be with vaccinations and testing rather than lockdowns.
“We’re going to fight this Covid this winter not with shutdowns and lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing, and much more,” the U.S. president said.
“In the meantime, the best protection is getting fully vaccinated, getting a booster shot. I urge all Americans who haven’t yet to get that done. Get it done today.”
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories