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Returning International Travelers Will Need to Quarantine Too, Biden Says

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President Joe Biden said Thursday that travelers coming to the U.S. from abroad will also be required to quarantine upon arrival, in addition to the new testing requirements for international travel announced last week.

Biden laid out his additional requirements for international travel – both for visitors and returning citizens – as part of his latest executive orders since taking office just this week. Biden's actions will also make mandatory masks on flights and in airports a federal law, putting the muscle of the federal government behind policies U.S. airlines put in place last spring.

But adding quarantine requirements throws another wrench into international travel in and out of the U.S. It comes just over a week after outgoing President Trump's administration announced it would require travelers to present a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to the U.S. That requirement is set to take effect Jan. 26.

It's unclear if the new quarantine requirements will also take effect next week, and how long travelers would be required to quarantine upon arrival. Biden's new COVID-19 response plan released Thursday says it will require travelers to “comply with CDC guidelines for self-isolation and self-quarantine upon arrival.” The CDC currently encourages travelers to self-isolate for at least seven days after travel – and at least 10 days without testing.

“Everyone flying to the U.S. will need to test before they get on that plane … and quarantine when they arrive in America,” Biden said from the White House on Thursday afternoon.

But the text of Biden's executive order raises more questions than answers, giving federal agencies plenty of wiggle room to reassess or change things. And it also leaves the door open to additional restrictions on domestic travel – something that hasn't happened in the U.S. to this point.

international travel quarantine 

It's also unclear how long these new restrictions for international travel will last. The new COVID-19 testing requirements are expected to last for many months – and as long as through the end of 2021.

Read up on everything you need to know about the new international travel testing requirements.

Enforcing quarantine requirements will be another issue. The U.S. has struggled with even rudimentary public health measures at airports like temperature checks and health screenings upon arrival from international flights. The Trump administration dropped those measures this fall.

Ensuring that travelers arriving from abroad comply with quarantine requirements would likely require a vast contact tracing program.


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Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

17 Responses

  • What science? So I can be tested 72 hours prior to travel and be OK to go on a crowded plane but then I cannot go anywhere for 10 days even with a negative test afterwards?? I didn’t know science could be so contradicting.

      • This is ridiculous. I travel to the States every month, and now I have to quarantine for 10 days even with a negative covid test, before I can start working?! The lawmakers are clueless about the impact of this rule.

  • Is there any info on whether or not any of these restrictions will apply to people that have been vaccinated? Does this also apply to very small children? I am glad to see though that something is being done on a national level.

    • So far, the CDC has said that proof of vaccination does NOT exempt you from these requirements – only proof of a recent COVID infection does. And only children under 2 are exempt.

  • Such a joke. Make laws and regulations that won’t be enforced and shouldn’t be. After have an administration that cut unnecessary regulation, now we are back going the wrong direction again.

    • So true! we have been to Mexico three times in 2020 and Florida twice. No problems at all. The resorts are doing a great job with Covid precautions. We are now having to cancel for the third time a visit to Turks and Caicos in March and will loose 2 K deposit. These small countries and resorts have worked so hard to get back up and running. No one will take the risk of being quarantined in a foreign country or possibly missing two weeks of work when you return. These new regulations will kill International travel and the airlines. Certainly moving in the wrong direction.

  • Unenforceable and waste of time. Am currently at the airport being rebooked because I had COVID(twice now according to the PCR) and they won’t let me board because I don’t have a negative COVID test. You are not suppose to test for 90days once you have a positive because you will test positive again. But none of the stupid rules cover once you have COViD or been vaccinated.

  • This seems like the end of all international tourist travel. It’s difficult to make sense of spending 2 weeks in another country if I have to Quarantine for 10 days or two weeks when I return home. In addition I will need to get a test in that country 72 hours prior to leaving. It’s not easy to get a test in the United States in 72 hours. Even worse than all of this is, having had the vaccine will not eliminate any of these requirements. Clearly the “scientists”who are now in charge have no faith the vaccine prevents Covid. If the US government has no faith in its vaccines why does anyone think other countries will allow our citizens in their country if we’ve been vaccinated.

  • How are USA citizens coming from vacations abroad are going to get a 72 hrs. proof of negative Covid-19 test in a foreign country? Tourists travelers are not normally acquainted with the health systems of foreign countries. Specially if you are coming directly from a cruise to the airport to catch the plane back home. I understand the importance of these measures, it is just that the implementation of the 72 hrs. Covid-19 test when a USA citizen is coming from vacations from a foreign country leave more questions than real solutions. I believe that it makes more sense to self quarantine for 7 days upon returning to USA and then have a molecular test. That is enough time to test positive if you were infected during the trip abroad. Which is what the countries want to know. By the way, people vaccinated for Covid-19 are going to test positive to the rapid test (IGG, IGM) because they already have antibodies. So the molecular test (presence of the virus) is the way to go.

  • more theater. real vaccine efficacy not anywhere near 95%. 70,000-94,000 died in the USA in the same time frame they took those efficacy numbers from late July-early Oct. Only ONE died of COVID in both Pfizer/Moderna– supposedly.

    Mutations (In the news) appeared in countries which tested vaccines. Just a coincidence? Nature finds a way, just like using antibacterial soap too much is no bueno.

  • Wow, this is insane. Would any regular person take an international vacation at this point? These poor countries that rely on tourism are finished. Just a further nail in the coffin of the airlines as well.

    I also have to ask, what is the point of these measures? There is just about as much COVID-19 in the USA as compared to any other country in the world that I am aware of. We are stopping people from bringing back COVID-19 from places that have the same or less COVID-19 as the USA?

    Sometimes government just implements polices to look like it is doing something to solve the problem, without actually solving the problem. This looks like one of those times.

  • I work in the Healthcare industry, I have been vaccinated and now I need to quarantine, when I come back 😡. I still wear PPE with every patient, goggles and half respiratory with every suspected patient, but yet I live next to a state where my coworkers can frequent the bars without a mask, go to Florida and Arizona which are hot spots but not need to quarantine, this is ridiculous. Won’t anyone stand up for the travel industry.

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