Under current rules, vaccinated international air travelers can present a negative test result within three days of the day of departure. Unvaccinated travelers are currently required to take a negative COVID-19 test within one day of departure.
The order from the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, says the agency “must take swift and targeted action to help curb the introduction and spread of the Omicron variant in the United States. United “.
The CDC said as of Monday that “all air travelers, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, will be required to show a COVID-19 viral test prior to the negative departure made the day before they board their flight to the United States.” United “.
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The tighter testing schedule “offers an additional degree of public health protection as scientists continue to evaluate the Omicron variant,” the White House said in a backgrounder released Thursday.
The CDC order noted that the Omicron variant has been found in 23 countries. The order did not require COVID-19 testing requirements for international travelers crossing the United States’ land borders with Canada or Mexico.
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The CDC order stated that it “may exercise its discretion to apply the law to adjust the scope of accepted pre-departure testing requirements to allow passengers, airlines and aircraft operators a greater flexibility regarding requirements ”.
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The CDC is expected to give airlines a three-day grace period to allow some travelers to return to the United States with tests performed outside the one-day window, sources told Reuters.
The administration plans to grant temporary waivers to around 20 countries where access to same-day testing is limited, but details are still being finalized, the sources added. Those exemptions might only last a week or so and are expected to be detailed on Friday.
On Monday, the White House said it would ban nearly all foreign nationals from entering the United States from eight southern African countries over fears of the spread of the Omicron variant, but did not extend those travel restrictions to other countries where the new variant was discovered.
Senior US infectious disease official Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday he viewed the restrictions on the eight countries as a “temporary measure.”
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday she “wouldn’t expect the restrictions to be lifted until she heard more about the variant.” We will continue to assess whether additional restrictions need to be put in place. “