International air travelers arriving in the United States from anywhere in the world, including American citizens, will be required to show proof of a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours of their departure, U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Thursday.
The new plan, going into effect “early next week,” makes no exceptions for vaccination status.
“This tighter testing timetable provides an added degree of protection as scientists continue to study the Omicron variant,” Biden said.
The announcement did not say whether travelers will have to take a PCR test — which could take days to produce a result — or if rapid tests will be acceptable.
Biden flew to the National Institutes of Health to spell out new efforts to provide boosters, more testing, and vaccines to combat Covid and the Omicron variant, and said he ‘strongly’ supports a review of getting jabs to children under 5.
The president said Americans should be prepared for a rise in coronavirus cases over the winter, but maintained it should simply be a cause for concern rather than panic.
His administration is rolling out a multi-faceted approach to tackle the pandemic after cases of the Omicron variant were detected in California and Minnesota.
That could potentially include further restrictions on domestic travel. When asked today about the possibility of a ban on unvaccinated domestic flyers, White House Press Secretary said “nothing is off the table.”
Mask-wearing will also be required in all mass transit hubs and airports until March 18, 2022. The mandate had been set to expire on January 18.
Biden flew to the National Institutes of Health to spell out new efforts to provide boosters, more testing, and vaccines to combat Covid and the Omicron variant – and said he supports a review of vaccinating children under the age of five. He also said he is considering requiring insurers to cover the cost of at-home tests for all U.S. citizens.
His speech came an hour after the CDC confirmed that new cases of the Omicron variant had been found in the U.S.