Wow: US To Impose New Covid Testing Rules, May Require Quarantine On Arrival

The Biden administration is preparing new travel rules for everyone entering the U.S. by air, regardless of vaccination status. Rules are expected to be announced Thursday.

  • Negative Covid-19 test within one day of travel rather than three days
  • Possible requirement for a second test 3-5 days after arrival
  • Even potential 7 day self-quarantine requirement on return for all travelers, backed by fines

The new policy “could take effect in a week or two.”

The two testing measures are detailed in a draft public health order written by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is under review by officials at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and the White House. The self quarantine-related measures are not in that draft but could be added later if the proposals get broader signoff, said the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the order has not been finalized.

The Justice Department has apparently not weighed in yet on the legality of a second test requirement or mandating self-quarantine. It’s also not clear how the U.S. would be prepared to monitor or enforce these rules in any fashion, and might rely mostly on the honor system perhaps bolstered by occasional high profile selective enforcement.

As Ethan Klapper observes, the U.S. cannot legally ban foreign travel, but they can make it really onerous so as to choke it off.

There’s no question this would massively dampen international travel to the U.S., but that’s unlikely to change the course of the pandemic. The Omicron variant is likely already in the U.S. It will continue to come here regardless of these rules. And infection levels in the country mean that the virus is mutating here as well.

Meanwhile vaccinated and tested air travelers are far less of a risk to most Americans than the unvaccinated people without access to the cheap $2 tests that are prevalent in Europe we all encounter in restaurants and bars every day.

A better approach is to,

  1. Get the FDA out of the way of cheap testing. Make it easy to test before any gathering.
  2. Expedite approval for variant vaccines.
  3. Approve Paxlovid immediately. It seems like we’ll need it.
  4. Offer clinical guidance on the use of fluvoxamine.

We have too few people in the U.S. boosted, in some measure because of mixed and ambivalent messaging from the federal government which didn’t want boosters to be used out of fear that they’d take away supply from the rest of the world and from a belief that we only needed protection from severe disease and not infection and spread. But we’ve let too many doses of vaccine expire unused.

Now the U.S. may pursue a policy that effectively kills international travel to look tough in advance of potentially very bad virus news in the form of the Omicron variant.

I’ll be surprised if the administration moves forward with a quarantine requirement. A requirement for a second test seems more likely, but enforcement would be surprising. They could – but aren’t likely to – require a PCR test for travel. Antigen tests are fantastic for showing current infectiousness, but if the goal is to keep out virus they are far less useful because they don’t reveal pre-infectious cases. People who test negative during travel aren’t likely to spread the virus to others they come into contact with during travel, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t carrying the virus.

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 »

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  1. Gary, you should stop giving medical advice and advise anyone on epidemiological issues. Any reader with half an eye open can read your bias on this topic. Nobody believes you are making any scientific conclusions on a issue that is way over your head.

  2. Easy access to good tests, more vaccinations and hopefully antivirals is the only way we really get out of this. Travel restrictions don’t work unless they are essentially complete (i.e. China). We know this. We learned it the hard way in the first waves. I don’t know why we are trying it again.

  3. You are still not a doctor. Shut up.

    You are still a travel shill paid on credit card commissions. Shut up.

    Are either of the above statements untrue?

  4. @chris May I inquire as to your scientific and/or medical qualifications that enabled you to come to the conclusion that Gary has shown a bias with regard to this topic?

  5. @ Gary — Antigen tests are “fantastic”? They are crap compared to PCR tests.

    This is an incentive to travel overseas (assuming that the rest of the world doesn’t completely freak out, and they will), as cities will be void of tourists again. I’m not staying in the basement this time around.

  6. When bureaucrats run and ruin the world part 3. I bet anyone $1,000 right now they will extend that effing mask mandate past the Jan expiration. We’re prisoners.

  7. Still going to tell us that the pandemic is over, Gary?

    Testing within 24 hours of departure back to the US is a reasonable policy. Retest 3-5 days after arrival is also reasonable, if unenforceable. 7-day quarantine is both ridiculous and unenforceable (in the US).

    Don’t get your public health or pandemic advice from a credit card salesman, people.

  8. So will this also apply to vaccinated US citizens returning? I have no problem w a rapid test within 3 days (getting PCR results can be problematic on short notice). Also, anyone know if the 24 or 72 hour testing requirement is from the time you check in for a flight, the flight leaves the gate, when it lands in the US or when you clear customs? With a 72 hour testing window you can do it the day before (36-48 hours) and not worry. With 24 hours I can see a lot of issues. Hell there are some flights, with connections, that alone can be almost a 24 hour travel experience.

  9. Huh, airlines are going to have a field day with this one – they will get so much more money for “saving jobs”. Just what a downturn economy with growing inflation needs – more spending, more deficit.
    Biden admin is truly a big disappointment on many fronts. Shame.

    On a personal side note – VERY happy to have just come over a week ago for a visit to the US after almost 2 years now and not waiting further:)

  10. @chris — Gary’s vaccine information isn’t wrong because he’s “uncredentialed.” There are plenty of crentialed “experts” who are giving bad Covid advice. Indeed, our entire public health apparatus is reeling from the horrific and contradictory advice given by these supposed “experts” the past 2 years.
    Rather, Gary is wrong because he’s not properly analyzing the data. This is hard. There is little help out there. For those who don’t want to do it themselves, I recommend substack. There are several people who have been banned from Twitter for correctly criticizing “the conventional wisdom,” and their substacks are very thoughtful and data driven. I’d recommend El Gato Malo and Alex Berenson.

  11. This is known as floating a trial balloon and seeing what sort of pushback they get. Also, you propose something ridiculous, so what you do actually propose seems like a pullback and much more reasonable.

    Still planning to head for Europe next week. Had to rearrange a bit, but certain countries seem determined to stay open. Let’s hope this all keeps just enough people out of business class so I can get my upgrade.

  12. Let’s just remind everyone that doctors have no more special knowledge or competence than anyone can have. The same textbooks (online) they read are available to anyone. It takes a year of full time study (which can be amassed over many years) to gain doctor level understanding of the body as reading imaging, dosing, and procedures don’t have to be learned if you don’t practice as profession.

    If you don’t trust the government making decisions for your life, you shouldn’t abdicate your judgement on medical issues to those indoctrinated in a leftist academic system and where any deviation from the leftist agenda is met with one being casted away. All medical decisions on a national level are political. Any time someone is pushing for more government restrictions, he or she is doing it because he or she is pushing a leftist agenda of more government power instead of good medicine.

    The fact is people are not dying more than they did previously. We can shuffle around what people die from (flu/pnemonia to covid) but it’s the same number. There is a severe overpopulation problem in India, Africa, China, and Latin America. The planet’s resources and environment are being devastated by it. Covid isn’t changing that. The death rates in 2020 are the same as in 2019. The death rates in 2021 probably are even lower than 2019.

  13. Gary – Your medical advice is a joke but that is nothing new. Though I did enjoy the Capital One read, where you excel in bringing us useful information.

    I hope they kill the entire travel industry. For that matter, lets lockdown the entire US again. Lets put everybody out of work and the FED should just print more money so all the sheep can stay locked in their house with their masks on. At least that way 25,000 tons of plastic waste won’t go into the world’s oceans every year!

    This needs to get a lot worse before it gets better. Biden will be or savior and contribute to the great reset! Lets go Joe!

  14. All of this is an absolute joke so long as 200,000 illegal immigrants walk in each month From all over the world with ZERO screening of any kind.

  15. Amy Fischer clearly just dropped in from a parallel universe where life is rosy and they sip champagne and kiss kiss each other. She hasn’t quite figured out yet where she is yet. Let’s giver her a few weeks to acclimate.

  16. @Gary – Thanks for not only pointing out problems but offering practical ways to address them. The foil hat crowd will take the usual path of making inane statements completely unrelated to the subject at hand or take cheap shots at you for making constructive suggestions because in their view only scientists can devise a course of action. At least if the scientist agrees with what the commenter has already decided is the truth, regardless of all proof to the contrary. Don’t get discouraged and thanks for contributing on the subject.

  17. Not sure what everyone’s worried about…didn’t ANY of you listen to the last guy? Shine a very powerful light into the body and drink some bleach for a cleansing. Done!

    Those were the good ‘ol days huh?

  18. Sounds to me like the US is buying time, we don’t know how much, but something is better than nothing. There is too little we know about the variant so at the moment on arrival testing seems reasonable, at least to collect data on whether there is large loads coming in or just a trickle. Would also help us know just how many vaccinated people are infected and how they are faring.

  19. I entered into the US and they don’t check or care if you’ve had a COVID test and that was during the height of the pandemic.

    No one that works at TSA actually implements or cares what Joe Biden says.

  20. Not sure what kind of “negative Covid test within one day of travel” you are talking about. Rapid or PCR? Impossible to find a PCR in many places with a 24 hour turnaround time.

    I don’t get this, what is the goal of all these Draconiain measures? It can’t be vaccinated tourists coming to the US. Is is that Covid is once again on the rise in this country and Biden et al are frustrated that more of the population aren’t being vaxxed?

    Up until now I’ve been a super-liberal-leftist with a free-market-capitalist inner core, but my patience hasn’t just grown thin, it is now GONE. It seems like the ‘government’ is trying to do all it can to control the course our country is taking…and these so-called fixes are backfiring. Gas at $3- a gallon is such a crisis that the strategic supply has to be tapped? I call that BS. Grinding the economy to a halt with a drop in the stock market in an effort to curb inflation? And now changing travel rules to do…exactly what?

  21. They can force me to get a one day test, but no way can they make me test after I get back or quarantine.

    Good luck with that.

  22. Haters gonna hate.
    I do not understand why those who do not like Gary’s space on the internet constantly troll his site with their babbling. Go away!
    Keep on keeping on Gary, your site is the best!

  23. Given the information that Biden and his advisors get prior to any of us, this does not look good. However, make no mistake, this is no worse than the U.K. had for ages with a quarantine. And without the quarantine it’s exactly the same as they have now.

  24. You’d need rocks in your head to visit the US at the present time. So any restrictions to make it less appealing is doing any would-be visitor a favour!
    The reason: despite the US being a leading country in Covid vaccine research and vaccine manufacture, the population has only mediocre rates of vaccination, well down the world list.
    Biden was correct when he said it was a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

  25. For those of you with a desire to research the other side….google these headlines….

    Fresh doubts over data integrity in Pfizer mRNA trial

    German euthanasia group says it will only carry out assisted suicides on people vaccinated against Covid-19 (this is just nuts)

    Vaccine Expert Warns Of Covid Vaccination Catastrophe

    Fact Checking the ‘Fact Checkers’ on Natural Immunity to SARS-CoV-2

    Naturally Immune People at Little Risk of Reinfection, Severe Disease From COVID-19: Study

    Sudden Surge in Stillbirths and Menstrual Changes

    March of the Vaccine Dead Protest in Italy – British Cardiologist Confirms AHA Study that COVID-19 Shots Causing Heart Attacks

    COVID Cases Surge in Five Most-Vaccinated States + More

  26. This has nothing to do anymore with “health” but is clearly a totalitarian fascist takeover by puppet Biden and his swamp handlers.
    Perhaps it is time that States with more reasonable governors reject that blatant rape of the Constitution and Civil Rights, and secede form this “disunion” asap.

  27. Have had 3 patients on chronic treatment luvox — very healthy dosages for their severe obsessive-compulsive disorder — admitted for covid. I don’t know that it works well, although I wish it did!

  28. Folks, Let’s face it. We have a virus which can and will mutate. You cannot kill it but you can limit it (you cannot contain it). Deal with it by getting vaccinated and living your life. Think annual Flu and this is our new existence. Go about your day and live your life but please be vaccinated. And Governments…back off.

  29. Why does anyone bother with a PCR test for travel? The U.S. border control doesn’t check the test upon arrival at passport control. Airlines glance at the test. They aren’t in a position to know whether it’s real or fake. Any kid with 5 minutes and some expertise in Microsoft Paint can make a valid-looking negative COVID test.

  30. I don’t always agree with your analysis but I always enjoy reading your take on things. Thank you, and ignore those who can’t tolerate different points of view.

  31. @Stuart

    Biden and his administration are interpreting any information they receive through a corrupted lens. I’d trust a sponge to make better decisions than those rats.

    We don’t need current information to know what the left and rinos will do. No matter what, their solution is always less freedom for everything. Facts are irrelevant because their cure is always cancer.

  32. @ Kimmie — “Grinding the economy to a halt with a drop in the stock market in an effort to curb inflation?” Yeah, because the stock market ALWAYS returns 8.5% per month. A drop of 40% would be a good reset. It is a joke right now. The Fed cannot raise interest rates fast enough. They screwed up, and it is time for them to reverse course.

  33. @Gene –

    Unfortunately, from what little I have seen of Fox news it isn’t much better than other mainstream media. You will never see these topics as they disagree with the narrative. Which is broadcast by big Pharma, which has little to do with health and saving lives. Even you will understand it one day when it gets a lot worse and the truth comes out. Multiple lawsuits in the works against the CDC, FDA, etc.. It’s just a matter of time.

  34. Meh, you can still just fly to Mexico then walk across the border without being bothered. You don’t even need to get into a taxi to do it at TIJ. Rules with massive loopholes deserve to be broken

  35. lol good [redacted] luck to them. I am traveling next week to countries with far lower covid rates and far better variant tracking than America. I am fully vaxxed with a recent booster and incredibly high antibody count. I take precautions when I travel and test regularly at home and abroad. There is absolutely no way I will quarantine when I return to America where no one seems to do anything to protect themselves and covid is rampant.

  36. Exactly where is this advice coming from? What is the evidence?
    Approve Paxlovid immediately. It seems like we’ll need it.
    Offer clinical guidance on the use of fluvoxamine.

    This is completely false, the problem is the exact opposite. Not enough people are vaccinated in the rest of the middle income countries never mind 3rd world so the virus mutates when it encounters those vaxed. The only nations getting any vaccine are those wee want to bind to our imperial system. The rest are left to rot and die with all these new variants a product of this poor policy. We are one people one H Sapiens group and need to deal with this crisis as such!
    We have too few people in the U.S. boosted, in some measure because of mixed and ambivalent messaging from the federal government which didn’t want boosters to be used out of fear that they’d take away supply from the rest of the world and from a belief that we only needed protection from severe disease and not infection and spread. But we’ve let too many doses of vaccine expire unused.

  37. I find it curious how many people do not care for Gary or his articles yet continue to visit this site and read it’s contents. It’s like going to a particular restaurant each week, every week and then complaining about the food, service, prices, etc… every single visit(Thank you sir, may I have another). There are plenty of other places to go, although you probably complain about those as well.

    instead of barking like horny dogs around laura ingraham, why don’t you unsubscribe from gary’s blog?

  39. Ahhh…yes…further incentive NOT to get the vaccine. This administration doesn’t seem to understand what the right hand is doing when the left hand is espousing something completely different. Incredible.

  40. My thoughts:

    -The Biden Administration has far more information than we do. They are fully briefed. We are not. They know what’s coming
    -They know this will be unpopular and met with resistance. As any leaders should do they will chose what is best balance. Despite it not being popular.
    -This is not meant to curtail essential/business travel as we know how to handle these things. It’s nothing more than throwing a few more loops to jump through so as discourage families with five kids going to Cancun for three days. Which is why I hope they implement the testing after arrival to the U.S. in the same way the U.K.has…it makes it more expensive for non-essential travel given you have to book and pay for it prior to departing to the U.S.

    Personally I find this to be a balanced and proper approach. It potentially reduces the number of infections on crowded aircraft coming into the U.S. (KLM gives us a preview of this) while not restricting anyone entirely.

  41. Sick and tired of those four deadly words “regardless of vaccination status.” They make it convenient for the unvaccinated to remain so, and discourage those who are vaccinated and want an end to this catastrophe. Let vaccinated people in. Keep the unvaccinated out.

    That politicians would react with panic and take a bunch of “we need to look like we’re doing something” actions ineffective for public health was inevitable. .

  42. This is all getting intolerable….. Do they really want to double down on stupid? I guess we shall see how much the Presidential disapproval ratings will sink.

  43. Why the F**k are you people reading this blog if all you think is @Gary is a “credit card salesman”? If that is your perspective, you still come here, you still comment, it pretty well sums up why the US is such a “shithole”. You actually waste this much time on something you get nothing from? There are many articles I pass on as they have zero relevance to me. There are ones I don’t always totally agree with @Gary on his perspective. But there are very many I appreciate and agree. That is why I come.

  44. There’s no way this will actually happen. Congress will go apeshit, and the Republicans will be able to block it. They still haven’t passed the NDAA or a budget and both of those are going to be a higher priority than this. If the White House makes a serious effort to do this, get ready for a government shutdown (probably not a short one, either). As noted by others, how are they going to enforce a quarantine? They don’t have the resources. And then you will have the inevitable lawsuits.

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