President Joe Biden, in an executive order signed Jan. 21, established new quarantine rules for international travel to the U.S., as well as other guidelines meant to control and counter the pandemic that has already taken more than 400,000 American lives.
The Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel, one of a series of immediate changes the Biden Administration is implementing, states that, “To the extent feasible, travelers seeking to enter the United States from a foreign country shall be required to produce proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test prior to entry; and required to comply with other applicable CDC guidelines concerning international travel, including recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the United States.”
Though there are no specifics listed in the executive order on length and enforcement, it places responsibility to implement the order with the secretary of Health and Human Services, working with the secretaries of Transporation and Homeland Security as needed.
The order also calls for mask requirements for travelers in airports and those who are utilizing a broad range of land, sea, and air transportation modes.
According to Reuters, the order also directs U.S. agencies to coordinate with Canada and Mexico “regarding public health protocols for land ports of entry,” with virtually all non-essential travel at U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico suspended through Feb. 21.
Reuters also notes that current CDC recommendations call for a seven-day quarantine rule for people entering the U.S.
The Hill observed, “Many of these measures have already been in place during the pandemic. Businesses and public transportation have been requiring masks and the CDC has had its guidelines for international travel posted before Biden’s inauguration.”
That publication also assesses the executive order as a signal of Biden’s proactive stance against the pandemic.
Biden called attention to the order in a Jan. 21 press conference, stating, according to Conde Nast Traveler, “Anyone traveling to the States by plane ‘will need to test before they get onto that plane before they depart and quarantine when they arrive in America.’”
The article also noted that airlines were responsible for collecting and verifying test results per the Trump Administration’s guidelines, but that could change. Biden is asking federal agencies involved to “identify agencies’ tools and mechanisms to assist travelers in complying with such policy” during the review period now underway.
On Jan. 26, Reuters reported that the Biden administration is “actively looking” at also mandating that travelers obtain a negative test before they travel by plane domestically.
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