New entry requirements for international travel to the U.S. went into effect today (Monday). The new guidelines require all international passengers, regardless of their vaccination status, to show a negative PCR test taken no more than 24 hours before arrival to the U.S., while previously, only unvaccinated travelers had to take a test no more than one day before travel.
According to the CDC’s updated order, the reduced timeframe aims to “provide less opportunity to develop infection with the omicron variant prior to arrival in the United States.” However, it “may exercise its enforcement discretion to adjust the scope of accepted pre-departure testing requirements to allow passengers and airline and aircraft operators greater flexibility,” providing airlines with a short grace period.
In addition, the Biden administration has also banned travel from eight countries in southern Africa where the Omicron variant was first detected. According to Jen Psaki, White House Spokesperson, “we will continue to assess on a daily basis… The President is meeting with his COVID team every single day, including this morning, to assess what additional steps should be taken to protect the American people… And we will assess if additional restrictions need to be put in place.”
Indeed, the U.S. has already announced some new restrictions on top of the CDC’s Amended Order. For example, President Biden has extended till March 18 the requirement that travelers wear masks on airplanes, trains, buses, and airports and transit stations.