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New COVID Test Rules for Travelers to the U.S.

The White House just announced that beginning “early next week”, the United States will begin requiring all travelers entering the country to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of departure, regardless of nationality or vaccination status. Currently, fully-vaccinated travelers only need a test that had been taken within three days of traveling, while unvaccinated travelers have to get their test within the one-day window.

In the same briefing, the Biden Administration extended the mask requirement for public transportation (including airports and airplanes) through March 18, 2022.

Although there had been speculation that a mandatory post-travel quarantine would be enacted in response to the new Omicron variant, this was not announced during the briefing.

There was a small bit of good news for travelers in the briefing, as the White House announced new steps to expand access to at-home COVID-19 tests. At-home COVID tests will now be covered by private insurance, so hopefully travelers will be able to order at-home tests to bring with them (and use for reentry to the U.S.) for free. However, at-home tests are only acceptable for travel if they include supervision via telehealth, and it was not indicated if this service will be covered under the new order.

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