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U.S. Travelers Await Clarification Over Biden’s New Quarantine Order

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American travelers and tourism operators from around the world are waiting for clarification on Biden's new controversial quarantine order.

On Thursday, Joe Biden signed an executive order that requires Americans returning from abroad to follow CDC “recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation.” 

older couple at airport wearing masks

Is The Quarantine Recommended or Mandatory?

The wording in the executive order has caused confusion among travelers. The exact wording states that travelers are “required to comply with other applicable CDC guidelines concerning international travel, including recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the United States.”

The CDC recommends the following:  “A post-arrival test 3-5 days after arrival at destination, combined with self-monitoring and a 7-day period of staying home.”

woman arrives at airport wearing mask

While the word ‘recommended' may be confusing, it does state that Americans are ‘required to comply'.

The order did however state international travelers must follow guidelines “to the extent feasible” leaving the order open to interpretation. 

There has been no clarification from the White House on if the quarantine order is mandatory or recommended. 

woman checking flight status in mask (1)

When Does The New Quarantine Requirement Begin?

There has been no official date set for implementation of the quarantine. The executive order is dated January 21 but no clarification was given on if the order was immediate. If the self quarantine period was meant to go into effect immediately, there were not enough details given for Americans to take the proper actions. 

woman checking flight status in mask (2)

Will The Quarantine Be Enforced?

The executive order did not provide any details on how the quarantine would be enforced or if there would be any follow up measures for travelers returning from abroad. 

Millions of Americans have been traveling during the pandemic and enforcing a quarantine will take a very large logistical effort by authorities. 

woman texting at airport before flight

Does The Quarantine Order Apply To Land Travel?

The quarantine order only applies to those arriving by air, however Biden's order directs U.S. officials to hold discussions with Canada and Mexico “regarding public health protocols for land ports of entry” including implementing CDC guidelines.
Currently a ban on non-essential travel across the U.S. and Mexico land borders is suspended through Feb 21.  

However, U.S. travelers have reported that they've had no problems crossing into Mexico by car or using the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) which is a walkway between San Diego and Tijuana. The order looks to tighten those restrictions.
woman waiting for flight at airport

Are Vaccinated Travelers Exempt From The Quarantine?

The order states that all travelers entering the United States from a foreign country must follow the testing and quarantine order. There is no exemption mentioned for those who have been vaccinated. 

Couple at airport waiting for flight with masks on

Does Testing Exempt Travelers From The Quarantine?

The quarantine order is in addition to the Covid-19 test which requires all international travelers arriving by air must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 antigen test no older than 72 hours. 

Travel Groups and Airlines Oppose Quarantine

The U.S. travel industry and airlines have voiced opposition to mandatory quarantines for air passengers arriving in the United States.

The U.S. Travel Association said that the order “could be extremely difficult to enforce.”. 

Airlines for America which represents major airlines in the United States said that “testing can be used to safely resume travel without quarantines, which are difficult to enforce and often prove ineffective.”

American flag O'Hare International Airport Chicago

Biden Continues To Tighten Travel Restrictions

President Joe Biden is expected to reinstate travel restrictions on foreign nationals entering the US from Brazil, UK, Ireland and the majority of Europe.

The initial travel restrictions for the region were set to be lifted by former President Trump’s proclamation during his final days in office.

Biden is also projected to sign a new travel ban on Monday to prevent those traveling from South Africa from entering the United States. 

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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


Tuesday 30th of March 2021

Coming from Asia to States...Im vaccinated and will have PCR results. So unless Im trying to cross the Rio Grande in the middle of the night, Ill have to quarantine. If I cross the Rio Grande, Ill be given lodging, medical care, welfare cash and free education for my children at taxpayers expense.


Thursday 11th of February 2021

Alas there seems to be a lack of direction. We heard so much about how bad things were and how everything was mishandled but we are not seeing clarity, certainty or direction more a desire to please the relevant constituencies in the political arena. The proposal to take control from the States and implement Federal Control also seems to have stalled. Let us hope this is a transitional issue and we will get clarity soon. Sadly the message coming from the US, the UK, Australia, Japan and so many other countries is one of isolationism which never ends well. Perhaps a high rate of vaccination will allow some normality to return despite the naysayers claiming it is all a conspiracy.


Friday 5th of February 2021

If i am transiting through do I have to stay in the airport? I have a 17h layover and would like to stay in a hotel.


Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

Is it already clear if the quarantaine are mandatory as well or not needed as tourist? Or anyone a recent experience about it. We try to enter USA 25th (don't know with or without quarantaine).

Kashlee Kucheran

Wednesday 3rd of February 2021

Right now the confusing statement still uses both the words 'recommended' and 'required' and no clarification has still been given by Biden or the CDC. However, every state has its own rules and some DO require a quarantine. Just type in 'state by state' into the search bar on this website in the top right corner and you will find that guide.


Monday 25th of January 2021

So what is the official statement?