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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Guys it’s time to write you Representatives especially if they have a D by their name (some for the 1st time) and make your objections to this clearly known. The vast majority of the US is vaccinated or has already been infected…. regardless these restrictions will continue and become increasingly nonsensical unless people stand up and let their voices be heard!

  2. The work around is to fly into Mexico and get on a bus to the border. Walk across the border and get on a free Biden flight to the city of your choice.

  3. Wow. Low booster rates are because of the guvmint but not because of the obstructionist GQP messaging that vaccines are bad.
    For shame Gary. For shame.

  4. I am fully vaxxed AND boosted. However, this rule makes my UNVAXXED friends want to STAY unvaxxed because it keeps their rules the same. How STUPID. Come ON midterm elections. This is killing travel and punishing those of us doing it right. Besides that, it’s a flipping virus–it is GOING TO HAVE VARIANTS. Anyone with a basic understanding of science knows this. It’s not going away. We will not change that. Punishing humanity won’t save humanity. It will just continue to profit these pop up test sites, and kill the airlines, hotels, etc and raise up more crime and people take out their anger. I will vote out anyone I can complicit in making this worse. I have lost too many friends to SUICIDE at this point. We know how to treat COVID the best we can, and it is time to move on as much as anyone can.

  5. @chris:

    “Nobody believes you are making any scientific conclusions on a issue that is way over your head.”

    Then there is no harm.

    But this wapo article has the hallmarks of a trial balloon. “Accidentally” leak out a proposal, get the public reaction, and make actual policy accordingly. Its all so inside the beltway.

  6. Unvaxxes.

    I fly to the US every two weeks for work.

    I will completely ignore this like every other requirement.

    I can’t believe the public still loves this after 2 years.

    The world has put on a master class in fear, and how it ensures people can be controlled by it.

    I will live on my feet, while you all die on your knees.

  7. It’s not about the science. It’s about the Cult of Fear, power, and control. Don’t believe me? Just look at the divisive comments here alone.

  8. @747always – you can blame some amount of people not getting first doses on the politicization of vaccines, but not really boosters because those by definition involve people who have been willing to get vaxxed

  9. @Stuart
    “-The Biden Administration has far more information than we do. They are fully briefed. We are not. They know what’s coming”

    There aren’t even any parallel universes where that statement is even remotely accurate. OMG, you win the internet today. LOL I heard CNN is looking for a few new anchors, you should check into it.

  10. And this folks is why we have the Constitution in the US, and why we should revere it. Without it, stuff like this is just the tip of the iceberg in what a rabid, power hungry government could inflict on the citizens. Our founding fathers may not have been perfect, but they sure had their shit together when it came to understanding human behavior and what an unconstrained government could do.

    Someone suggested this is a trial balloon. I think that’s right. But two things. It gives us a view into the thinking of our senile president and the people behind the curtains pulling his strings. Second, do they really not know how we’re going to react to this.

    Part of me hope this goes ahead, full bore, all knobs to 11. Because the quicker this abject failure and embarrassment of an administration pisses off the ever dwindling support they have, the quicker their demise.

  11. This is fake news and is not happening, Thanks boadringarea for becoming the new Washington Post. As an airline employee whose job requires people traveling, you posting these articles that are not real piss me off. DO NOT post stuff that has not happened! DO NOT Post rumors. Keep it real.

  12. @SMR

    To the contrary, this gives us as airline workers and the general public a “heads up” to hopefully work to derail this. The administration has obviously leaked this (to several outlets) to gauge public sentiment. Have you contacted your Representative and Senators offices yet to voice your displeasure? How about the Whitehouse? I have.

  13. Can we stop being politically correct? The Biden Administration is anything but. Everyone should be calling them the Biden Regime because there has never has been a US leader as fearful and power hungry as Biden and his minions.
    Heil Biden! Heil Fauci!
    After all, there’s really no difference between some bureaucrat asking for “your papers” vs asking for your vaccine passport.

  14. How did we get here and what you can do so this never happens again. I’m going to simplify this to pure logic. Take the emotional equation out of the picture.

    We have a divided country and world for that matter.

    We now have a communistic narrative in the USA. Anyone who speaks out is cancelled, fired, some sent to jail, suicide and even killed for their statements around the world. Doctors, nurses, professors, police, fire, etc…stamped out for their beliefs and religious objections, yet many of them sacrificed their lives to be the first line of defense last year and now look at them.

    We have politicians and corrupt agencies (CDC, FDA, WHO, GAVI and others) setting the rules, for what purpose and what end result are they trying to accomplish? The latest, the “expert” FDA panel voted 13-10 that the antiviral pill, called molnupiravir, should be authorized, although members expressed extreme concerns that, if used in pregnancy it could cause birth defects. Maybe more testing should take place????

    We have a stock market “spooked” by media statements and propped up by the FED buying 80 billion each month. We have a dead economy and first time jobless claims about a million a month for quite some time now. Cramer, the medical expert, is now calling for forced vaccine jabs but we already know they are not working as expected. Even Fauci and Gates have said so! And, no it is not because of the unvaccinated otherwise states heavily vaxed like Vermont and countries like Israel would not be in as bad shape as they are.

    We have a VAERS system in place designed to report injuries that is hardly being used by doctors due to external pressure, time constraints and other factors. But that is what it was set up for! EUDRAVigilance, the EU database and the England equivalent reporting millions of injuries and deaths due to vaccines. The information is held back.

    And, the worst of all…. We have recovered Covid people who have antibodies off the charts who still need a “passport” depending on where you live. We have multiple studies showing those who recovered are very well protected, yet that data is suppressed from mainstream. We have multiple studies between vaccinated and unvaccinated yet that info is suppressed and NEVER discussed on mainstream.

    What can you do to help??? Demand conversation. Demand debate. Demand social media stop taking a one-sided narrative. Stop using those services. Get involved with local politics and vote from the ground up instead of top down. Change where you live.

    Stop fighting between us and start fighting for truth from those making life decisions for us. This will only get worse unless we ALL start demanding discussion between both sides. If we had that from the beginning we would never be in the place we are in now.

    Demand conversation. Demand debate. All of us. Until that happens we will divide further. This will lead to civil war if it doesn’t change NOW.

  15. those of you here know how onerous a one day travel test would be. Many countries test centers are closed on sundays (and some on saturdays too). So this means no Monday flights at all – likely diminished Sunday options. It’s absurd. And absurd rules make people not take them seriously. If the gov’t wants people to listen, they must put in place common sense rules. Like mandating PCR tests only, 3 days in advance. Not antigens one day.

  16. Umm maybe now is not the time to be encouraging international travel to the US? You know when there is this new variant that we know little about spreading at an excessive pace, especially given the holiday season and all the Americans that will be travelling domestically. If this variant turns out to be bad the economic harm to the country in allowing a ton of international cases to come across our borders and then be reseeded as part of domestic travel could cripple our economy. Hospital systems could be completely overwhelmed resulting in needless deaths. In short we don’t know what we are dealing with but the initial evidence strongly suggests this variant is highly contagious and may circumvent immunity from vaccines and prior infections. It is all fine and dandy to say we needed an updated vaccine to handle this but that will take more than three months and if this variant is similar to delta or more lethal many people will die during that time period, so the best option is to slow the spread of the variant as much as possible especially during the holiday season. Not sure what is soo complicated to understand about this. Oh if you are soo concerned with international travel remember that Americans aren’t likely to be allowed into many other countries in the future if we get overwhelmed with this variant.

  17. @Bill,

    With that logic we will be on this merry go round until the end of time. You base policy of facts not conjecture…. Each time they do this without a concrete reason based on good data (which they themselves say would take two weeks), they loose more trust and faith…..So let’s see when announced whether it’s based on data or an “abundance of caution” which is not a good enough reason at this point.

  18. The WHO said today that early cases are mild and not severe. Stocks are rallying on this news.

  19. Fauci, the face of China lab virus. He needs to be crucified for crimes against humanity in his Dr. Phibes experimenting with Pandora’s box. His eyes are deepening, soon horns and fangs will appear.
    I dont want to live in a mask until I die.

  20. Well, I did just write my Senators and US Representative. These proposals are asinine, since at the worst, they do not differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.
    As one who — fully vaccinated and boosted — has spent the equivalent of a coach ticket on COVID tests every time I’ve gone to my UK home and business the last year, I’ve had enough. And I’m about as far from a COVID denier as you can get.
    And, apparently, Omicron ain’t that bad……???
    Time for mandatory retirement ages to get rid of that idiot Fauci.

  21. Omicron has been spotted in California. Europe confirms cases were there before it was even recognized in South Africa. All the restrictions and testing and quarantines in the world are closing the barn door after the horse has left.

  22. Gee, I’ll have to stay in France where you can’t go to a public place without a health pass,which proves vaccination. And masks are mandatory and enforced. And I haven’t heard one sniveling right wing sob with an R next to their name bitch.

  23. @Dumammy What about all the riots in France this last few months? Not everyone is happy about the health pass.

  24. “Meanwhile vaccinated and tested air travelers are far less of a risk to most Americans than the unvaccinated people … we all encounter in restaurants and bars every day.”

    Not in the civilized parts of the country, we don’t. Vaccination requirements for restaurants and bars would make a lot more sense than for air travel. Too bad we can’t institute those nationally like every other rational country on the planet.

  25. Seriously after reading these comments it’s definitely going to be lasting longer because we are not following the science
    It’s not that hard

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