Biden Administration Announces New More Strict COVID Testing Requirements for International Travel,
President Joe Biden's administration has announced more strict COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements for travelers arriving in the United States following the discovery of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Instead of the three days testing requirement, travelers entering the country by air will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of departure, regardless of vaccination status or nationality.
The new one-day test requirement will begin "early next week," according to the White House release.
"This tighter testing timeline provides an added degree of public health protection as scientists continue to assess the Omicron variant," the White House said.
Additionally, the federal mask mandate for wearing face masks on planes, trains and public transportation will be extended through March 18. The new plan also expands free at-home testing for Americans.
The updated requirements come just one day after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that the first U.S. case of Omicron was detected in California after the variant was initially reported out of South Africa last week.
"The individual was a traveler who returned from South Africa on November 22. The individual, who was fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms that are improving, is self-quarantining and has been since testing positive. All close contacts have been contacted and have tested negative," the CDC confirmed in a news release published on Wednesday.
The U.S. reopened to international travel as recently as November 8, requiring fully vaccinated individuals to present proof of inoculation and a negative viral test taken within three days of their flight. As of November 29, the Biden administration is restricting travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe due to concerns over the new Omicron variant.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has already warned against travel bans but issued a new travel advisory this week recommending individuals who are older than 60 and those with certain health conditions to postpone their travel plans for the near future due to the emergence of the Omicron variant.
For the latest insight on travel around the world, check out this interactive guide: