As questions remain about the omicron variant, the United States is considering a stricter COVID-19 testing requirement for inbound flights to the United States as well as an obligatory self-quarantine on arrival.
New Testing, Quarantine Requirements Under Considering For Inbound Travel To USA
The news, leaked to The Washington Post, would represent a trio of firsts for the United States:
- A negative Covid-19 test within one calendar day of travel (not 24 hours) would be required for all passengers, regardless of vaccination status
- currently, vaccinated travelers can submit a test not more than three calendar days old.
- A second test up to five days after arrival
- 7-day self-quarantine upon arrival in the USA
It is not clear when the new policy would take effect.
The negative COVID-19 tests seems like the most likely new rule, while the second test and self-quarantine are merely under consideration (and perhaps leaked to gauge initial public reaction).
Like state or county-level self-isolation requirements, wide exemptions typically exist for business travelers and essential workers. Practically, the new policy would be geared at raising the cost of short-term leisure trips with the goal of reducing the spread of COVID-19.
The mandatory self-quarantine may not even be legal: the White House has asked the Department of Justice to weigh in on the potential.
The two testing measures are detailed in a draft public health order written by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is under review by officials at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and the White House. The self quarantine-related measures are not in that draft but could be added later if the proposals win broader sign-off, said the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the order has not been finalized.
The leak and new rules under consideration suggest the Biden Administration will announce on Thursday that not only is the omicron variant present in the United States, but potentially widely present (which would make sense considering the dozens of daily flights arriving from Europe and Africa without post-flight testing or quarantine).
While there are many unanswered questions, the new pre- and post-flight testing plus quarantine policies under consideration would present a dramatic change from current U.S. policy concerning international travel.
Stay tuned for more analysis on this tomorrow.