Here’s What President Biden’s New Executive Order On Travel Actually Does (And Doesn’t Do)

President Biden issued an executive order on mask wearing, as well as testing and quarantine for international travel.

The order doesn’t actually do anything. Instead it outlines Administration policy and instructs various departments of government to come up with plans to implement. Here are the key elements of the plan, most of which are fairly non-specific at least where they do not duplicate existing policy.

  • Masks Provides for mask-wearing in airports; on commercial aircraft and trains; in public ships, boats, and ferries; on intercity buses; and public transportation. The relevant agency and department heads (Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Transportation, TSA, FAA, Coast Guard) are supposed to consult with local officials, transportation heads and self-appointed consumer advocates in formulating rules making sure not to pre-empt stricter rules already in place and documenting where exceptions are made.

  • Domestic travel: Agencies are supposed to come up with recommendations for new measures and restrictions to reduce Covid-19 spread in domestic travel.

  • Testing for international travel: The Trump administration’s testing policy for everyone entering the U.S. starting January 26th remains in place. Within 14 days they will re-assess what kinds of tests are accepted, and what alternatives to a negative test prior to air travel might be permitted under what circumstances. They could reconsider whether to accept antigen tests.

  • Quarantine on arrival in the U.S.: “to the extent feasible,” travelers should be required to comply with CDC recommended “periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the United States.” The CDC currently recommends

    • Get tested 3-5 days after travel, stay home for 7 days after travel, or
    • Stay home for 10 days after travel

    There is no plan yet for how to implement this or when it might start. Instead they have to come up with,

    a plan for how the Secretary and other Federal Government actors could implement the policy stated in subsection (a) of this section with respect to CDC-recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after a flight to the United States from a foreign country

  • Land borders and sea ports they’re going to work on a plan, in consultation with Canada and Mexico, for what will be required at land borders and separately come up with a plan for ports.

  • Vaccination certificates they will assess linking records of COVID-19 vaccination to International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) and producing electronic certificates.

We know that the Administration wants masks basically where masks are already required, testing for international travel which is about to be required anyway, and quarantining on arrival though they don’t have any idea how to enforce it. And they see vaccination as a path out of some of these rules.

The relevant action is going to be in formulating policies and procedures that come next, following this executive order. And what really matters for U.S. citizens is speeding up vaccination, where government has failed at all levels so far (and where Biden’s goal of 100 million doses in 100 days is spectacularly unambitious because it’s the current pace we’re already on, even as production begins to ramp up).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. So basically ineffective and pointless actions by America’s first illegitimate president. Got it.

  2. 1 million doses/day of vaccine under the Trump Administration…
    Media: “No plan. Total failure.”
    Biden Administration gives 100 million doses in 100 days using Trump Administration infrastructure…
    Media: “Unprecedented success. Biden saves America.”

  3. “ Vaccination certificates they will asses linking records of COVID-19 .”

    I think you mean assess, but maybe you’re focused on asses?

  4. So, get a negative test to get on a plane then land and quarantine. I’m confused. Someone will say “Well, you could contract Covid b/w your test and arrival”. How is that any different than walking the streets in the good ole US of A?

  5. And Gary you forgot that you are allowed to present a positive test of the last three months + letter of physician stating you have gotten over Covid.

  6. @Joe – your brain is illegitimate. Trump 2016 is somehow legit but Biden’s win isn’t despite net 10mm more votes and same EVs. Piss off.

  7. Our highest daily vaccinated count so far has been 700-800k, so not sure where these MAGA crazies thought we have hit 1 million/day.

    And Gary, yes 1 million/day is a low bar to set, but given the supplies available between now and April, we wouldn’t be able to ramp up that much now even if we wanted to. Within the second quarter yes ramp up definitely. But I guess if you have nothing better to do, just criticize because the past year has been just great…

  8. @ Steve — No, what it will be is peace from having an immoral asshat running our country forever, and that will last way, way longer than 4 years. Surely, I’m not the only one who is happy to finally be at peace knowing that the guy at the top is not trying to rob us all blind. Now, we can hopefully get back to a world that isn’t consumed about whatever lies Dear Leader tweeted today. This horrible period in American history has taught me a valuable lesson — character is way more important than party. Going forward, I will be much more open to voting for Republicans who aren’t just lying crooks, you know, people like Mitt Romney and John McCain. People who have/had values.

  9. Who among you have actually read the 200-page document released earlier Thursday called “National Strategy for the Covid-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness” ?

  10. @UA-NYC – get ready to hear it until the old geezer kicks the bucket. Everyone knows the election was rigged and we will treat him accordingly.

    What are you going to do about it, loser?

  11. @Doug – read any report today, the message is clear and consistent – Trump left the cabinets bare, there is no national vaccine distribution plan.

    Biden starting from Square 0. But at least he *has* a plan. Cause he is actually interested in doing the hard work of being President.

  12. @UA-NYC – also, kindly open your mouth and eat what I had for dinner last night – it was corn XD

  13. “Domestic travel: Agencies are supposed to come up with recommendations for new measures and restrictions to reduce Covid-19 spread in domestic travel” –

    Hey, who knows – maybe they’ll recommend airlines keep middle seats vacant? At least tax payers can see some sort of ROI for those wasted “payroll” support. Your taxes basically bought you a free middle seat. Nice thought, but not holding my breath this admin will have the balls to ask this from the airlines the govt just propped up.

    But, seriously – all of this is meaningless. Sleepy can issue as many orders he wants, and agencies can come up with all the rules they wish – this virus won’t go away that fast because many Americans will refuse to vaccinate, and many refuse to wear masks which is so simple.
    Sleepy can’t win (honestly, it’s not even his fault here – it’s the population’s fault).

  14. My prediction is that DoD medical units and National Guard will be mobilized to ramp up distribution but might not happen until SecDef is confirmed as they are probably going to move some funds around like take away the DoD funds used on the wall and use that on vaccines………
    And the other big problem is that fiscal law makes it a crime for imprisonment (rarely happens) for a government official to spend money they don’t already have a congressional authorization……….so the passing of another relief package that funds additional vaccines and funds the states efforts won’t be truly available until another package is passed………
    And the hearings for a HHS Secretary haven’t even started…………So coordination starting at the federal Level is limited to the new CDC Director, Fauci, and acting HHS Secretary who is a SES Budget Analyst!
    You have to wonder how creative the negotiations with Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J are and whether they can/will ramp up without funds already authorized………..

  15. Latest numbers I saw put the 6 day rolling average for US vaccinations in the 910K per day range. 90% to Biden’s target rate. Now if can just keep from f’ing it up as is his particular talent.

  16. @Joe – you are a Q Anon loser, everyone on VFTW should know it and take your posts with a heavy grain of salt. Of course people are deserting Q Anon in droves, as there was no storm, nobody came to your rescue, but you are stuck with a false idol…Biden’s the president. LOLOL.

  17. Looks like this quickly devolved into flame throwing. Too bad. I think what it came down to was that the Republicans forgot the lesson of “Frankenstein.” They thought they could control a monster and it turned on them. But whether you agree with me or not, he’s gone from D.C. and is facing massive criminal investigations for his private as well as public dealings. No different than any other citizen accused of having done some really shady things, and not yet exonerated or found guilty in state or federal courts. So why not hold off and see what comes out? Meanwhile can’t we all work together for the decent and more peaceful country that everybody wants?

  18. Man, should have turned off the comments. Ugh. Let’s slog through this together and stop re-litigating the past. I’m a republican, voted for trump, but enough is enough. This site is about freakin’ travel!

  19. I think we can all agree we want the vaccination rollout to increase and be successful! I mean unless you have a rich relative in a nursing home and you can’t wit to cash in?

  20. @ drrichard @ Gonzo — I couldn’t agree more, but some of the believers of Trump’s lies may never acknowledge the truth, so we may never all be able to work together. Fortunately, in America, all we need is a majority.

  21. @UA-NYC – No friend. Unlike you, my life isn’t dominated by politics. It’s sad that we have an illegitimate old pervert as our fake president, but I’m not going to let it ruin my life. I’ve got plenty of things going on in my life to keep me happy. You on the other hand seem to have Trump on the brain 24/7. I think you are a hateful, miserable little man full of rage. When the next Republican president is elected in four years, that’s all you’re going to be able to think about too. And I will be here making fun of you LOL.

  22. @Gene – voter fraud, of course, or have you not been paying attention these past months? And before you ask, yes there is a lot of evidence – witnesses, video evidence, statistical, way too much to list here. It will take months, maybe years to prove conclusively, but the establishment wanted the old fart in office, so here we are.

  23. Joe,

    Still cheering for your allied criminal invaders who stormed the US Capitol on January 6th?

    Given your faith in various Team Trump conspiracy theories, you should seek professional help to escape the Trump cult and the cult beliefs. “Our ‘thoughts and prayers’” for you won’t spare you of the burden of the fiction-based anxiety you have, but professional help may help you find out what it is that keeps you angry and insecure about the world around you and so eager to attach to conspiracy theories.

  24. Joe, I suggest you read any of the 60+ judicial opinions handed down regarding the lack of evidence presented by Trump’s lawyer re voter fraud.

  25. Funny how the Democrats are all over Mitt Romney now.
    When he was running against Obama in ‘12 they called him a racist. One demagogue even said, in a black church, that Romney “is gonna put y’all back in chains!” That race hustler was one Joseph Biden…

    Character and civility indeed.

  26. @ Joe — I’ve been watching and there is zero evidence of fraud. Why don’t you racists just admit that “voter fraud” is the new code word for “too many brown and black people voted”. I did observe lots of brown and black folks voting, and it is was a beautiful thing. Hopefully that trend will only grow.

  27. @Gene – and a record number of those brown folks voted for Trump – thats going to be a problem for you down the road.

    Anyway, since this is a travel website and there is nothing we can do about the illegitimate president (for now) – let’s talk about travel. I’m going to Europe next month, won’t say where but it’s business class and it’s going to be fun. I don’t plan to quarantine when I get back either.

  28. You may find that some of your scheduled flights to Europe don’t exist next month. And you may find that the EU and Schengen area travel ban and other European area travel related restrictions are actually tighter next month than they are today.

  29. @GUWonder–What is the reason that you think that you think that other European area travel restrictions are going to be stricter next month? Is this relating to US restrictions, or do you have knowledge about something else bringing about these new restrictions?

  30. “(and where Biden’s goal of 100 million doses in 100 days is spectacularly unambitious because it’s the current pace we’re already on, even as production begins to ramp up).” Really Gary? Where the heck have you been then because you could have run the program for the US. Because for over a month since we had the vaccine only 12 million vaccines have been given out. Its not clear that the states even have adequate funding for a sustained vaccination campaign of the nature that would be required to get through this pandemic. On top of that many states are running out of the vaccine and there are no reserves. A million vaccines a day is far from a sure thing given how poorly this was handled by the prior administration.

  31. The radical left is already calling the shots. Joe said we have to “get rid of America First” Thats what we have for the next 4 years.

  32. @Joe [Stalin] — You must have missed the “top secret & urgent” FAX.

    All Russian agents deployed by the Kremlin & GRU to try to perpetuate #MAGA and subvert Amerika for 4 more years have been ordered to return to motherland immediately.

    Reason: the summary repudiation of “Agent Orange” by the people of Amerika.

    Time to pack it all up and return home, tovarish.

  33. @Joe. Better be careful, I think the FBI is looking for you from your attendance at the Capitol insurrection event.

  34. @ Joe — It isn’t my problem. I have an actual job, unlike politicians, where I am judged on my work not the color of my skin.

  35. A lot of fluff, no substance, what we call an Imagonna.

    I’m a gonna require something so I’m a gonna put out an order BUT I’m a gonna put out the details later. Oh, and I’m a gonna reassess what we are already requiring (antigen) and maybe change my mind.

    I’m know thinking is hard but figure out the details, THEN put out the press release. But then, we couldn’t puff out our chests and tell the world how we addressed this issue in the first 100 days.

  36. I am sure he appreciates you explaining it to him, otherwise he would have so idea what he signed. #senility #unityLOL

  37. “…making sure not to pre-empty stricter rules”
    Really, you need to at least read whet you write before publishing

  38. We are truly a nation divided… not economically but by education and that is abundantly clear judging by some of the comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *