New rules requiring international air travelers arriving in the United States to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within one day of travel will take effect Monday at 12:01 a.m. ET, according to a government order issued late Thursday.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky’s order says the agency “must take quick and targeted action to help curtail the introduction and spread of the Omicron variant into the United States.” The CDC said beginning Monday “all air travelers, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, will be required to show a negative pre-departure COVID-19 viral test taken the day before they board their flight to the United States.”
The CDC order noted the Omicron variant has been found in 23 countries. The order didn’t require COVID-19 testing requirements for international travelers crossing U.S. land borders with Canada or Mexico. Under current rules, vaccinated international air travelers can present a negative test result obtained within three days of their day of departure. Unvaccinated travelers currently must get a negative COVID-19 test within one day of departure. The CDC’s order said 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 regarding the requirements.”
⚠️KIDS HOSPITALIZATIONS—The “highly transmissible” #Omicron variant is putting disproportionately large numbers of children under the age of 5 years old in hospitals, a top South African government medical adviser said Friday. #COVID19 🧵 https://t.co/ZdYaN19oFr pic.twitter.com/8aaleyNnUf
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) December 3, 2021
The CDC is expected to give airlines a three-day grace period to allow for some travelers to return to the United States with tests taken outside of the one-day window, sources told Reuters.
We have moved forward in the face of COVID-19 and the Delta variant. We will move forward in the face of the Omicron variant as well. And we’ll do it together. pic.twitter.com/2UqwdbN9Ms
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 3, 2021
The administration is considering whether to grant temporary exemptions for about two dozen countries where access to same-day testing is limited, but the details are still being finalized, the sources added. Those exemptions could last for only about a week and are expected to be detailed on Friday.
Public health experts: don't panic about Omicron
The public: pic.twitter.com/TtM0nnYED8
— Adam Blickstein (@AdamBlickstein) December 3, 2021
On Monday, the White House said it would bar nearly all foreign nationals from entering the United States from eight southern African countries over fears of the spread of the Omicron variant, but has not extended those travel restrictions to other countries where the new variant has been discovered.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) December 3, 2021
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday she would not “expect the lifting of restrictions before we know more about the variant. We will continue to evaluate if additional restrictions need to be put in place.”