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New travel regulations begin Monday as Omicron variant cases are detected in U.S.

Posted at 9:45 AM, Dec 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-06 09:45:22-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — New stricter travel rules are starting today for passengers coming into the United States.

While the Delta variant is fueling the vast majority of new Coronavirus cases in the U.S, health officials say they've detected the new Omicron variant in more than a dozen states. Due to that new variant, the U.S. is changing the rules for entering the country.

As of midnight last night, the new regulations took effect. All inbound international travelers must test negative for Covid-19 within one day of departure for the U.S. starting Monday. The new rule applies to all passengers two years or older— but there's no requirement for post-arrival testing or quarantine.

The U.S. is still restricting entry to travelers from South Africa and seven other African nations. President Biden's Chief Medical Adviser - Doctor Anthony Fauci- says the U.S. was "in the dark" about Omicron when that decision was made.

Fauci says the administration hopes to be able to lift the ban within a, "reasonable period of time."

"I mean, we all feel very badly about the hardship that that might have put upon not only South Africa, but the other African countries and for that reason, in real time, literally, on a daily basis we're reevaluating that policy,” said Fauci.

While the Delta variant remains a threat, U.S. health officials have detected the new Omicron variant in more than a dozen states. The country is now averaging more than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases per day. That’s the highest number of reported infections in two months.

Nearly all passengers must have a negative Covid-19 test one day before departure regardless of vaccination status. Any foreign national who travels to the U.S. must be fully vaccinated. Travel industry leaders say any restrictions should be placed on individual passengers, not entire countries.

”We need to figure out how to balance not only the economy and the health concerns simultaneously, but we also need to think about making sure we still welcome international travelers here to the us," said Tori Emerson Barnes, Executive Vice President, Public Affairs and Policy, U.S. Travel Association.

Along with those new restrictions, a few existing ones are still in place. If you plan to travel, be sure you have a face mask at the ready.

The Biden Administration is extending the mask mandate for planes, buses and trains thru March 18.