Joe Biden considering new travel rules to deal with omicron variant: Report


President Biden is reportedly considering stricter requirements on travelers entering the U.S. as he preps a Thursday speech on ways to stave off a winter COVID-19 spike and deal with the omicron threat.

The draft proposals, first reported by The Washington Post, would require all travelers to be tested within 24 hours of plane departure regardless of vaccination status.

It was unclear whether a rapid antigen test would be acceptable, as many travelers have trouble getting results from sensitive PCR tests under the current 72-hour rule for vaccinated persons.

Unvaccinated travelers must get tested within one day of travel under current rules.

Officials are considering whether travelers should get tested again within three to five days after arrival and whether U.S. and foreign travelers should self-quarantine for seven days regardless of test results or face fines, according to The Post.

The proposals would face a raft of challenges, including the practical and legal impediments to enforcing a self-quarantine.

But they underscore the global hand-wringing over the omicron variant that has alarming mutations and has been detected in nearly 20 countries, though not in the U.S. so far.

Mr. Biden, who barred travel from South Africa and surrounding nations where the variant appears prevalent, is scheduled to outline a plan for dealing with the variant and overall pandemic on Thursday.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hinted at new rules during a COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday.

“As we have done throughout the pandemic, CDC is evaluating how to make international travel as safe as possible, including pre-departure testing closer to the time of flight and considerations around additional post-arrival testing and self-quarantines,” Dr. Walensky said.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

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