By Claire Gordon • 02 December 2021 • 23:33
The United States is making it mandatory by early next week for travellers to the US who arrive by air to get a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of their departure, regardless of their vaccination status, as part of a pandemic battle plan for the winter months.
President Joe Biden made the announcement of his administration’s plan on Thursday 2 December as he visited the National Institute of Health in Bethesda. Until now, travellers to the US have been required to get a test within 72 hours of leaving for the states. The new protocol will not apply for those crossing the Canada to US land border.
“We’re pulling out all the stops to get people maximum protection from this pandemic,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a briefing on Thursday in advance of Biden’s afternoon announcement. “Our view and belief, and the belief of our medical team, is that we have the tools to keep people safe. We’re executing on a robust plan that builds off of all the actions we’ve taken to date — we are not starting from scratch here.”
Fully vaccinated travellers to the US by land from Canada currently do not need to present a negative Covid test as long as they have vaccination proof or will attest to being vaccinated to a border agent. In Canada, all those entering the country must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result, taken within 72 hours of arrival by land or air.
Under the U.S. plan to combat the spread of COVID-19 over the winter months, the Transportation Security Administration is extending its mask mandates on transit through to March 18 2022. Passengers on domestic flights, trains and public transportation will be required to continue wearing face masks.
Biden’s speech outlining the plan comes a day after the U.S. confirmed its first case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in a traveller who arrived in San Francisco from South Africa on November 22.
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