U.S. Plans New Travel Restrictions Like Tighter Pre-Flight Testing Window Amidst Omicron Threats

by Carolee Chanona

Ahead of another busy holiday travel period, White House officials confirm that a tightened pre-flight testing window is coming for travelers as the world races to face the new Omicron variant. It’s expected that President Joe Biden will soon announce tighter Covid restrictions for people flying into the United States, including requiring a negative Covid test just one day prior to travel, besides the already-in-place vaccination requirement for all foreign visitors.

Earlier this month, the administration and the CDC stipulated that those traveling to the U.S. must show proof of vaccination as well as proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken three days prior to boarding an airplane, replacing quarantine measures that had previously been in place. Unvaccinated Americans who wish to return to the U.S. have been subject to stricter testing requirements, testing one day before their departure and again post-arrival.

The Biden administration has already banned travel from South Africa, which first reported the new variant, as well as from nearby Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi, and Mozambique. But there have been indications that the variant may have originated in Europe, raising questions about whether the U.S. might again shut down flights from Europe, mere weeks after they had been lifted.

Header image: Travelers enter security checkpoints at Logan International Airport, in Boston on Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving. | Steven Senne/AP Photo

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