Once the Omicron variant was first identified by South African scientists, countries all over the world quickly adjusted their entry requirements and some, like Japan, Morocco and Israel just shut their borders completely. Others, including the U.S., restricted travel from eight countries in southern Africa.

It now appears that the United States will take things a step further and make much more significant changes for all international travelers, including fully vaccinated Americans. The Washington Post is reporting that tomorrow, the U.S. government is going to make a big announcement: “U.S. officials would require everyone entering the country to be tested one day before boarding flights, regardless of their vaccination status or country of departure. Administration officials are also considering a requirement that all travelers get retested within three to five days of arrival.

“In addition, they are debating a controversial proposal to require all travelers, including U.S. citizens, to self-quarantine for seven days, even if their test results are negative. Those who flout the requirements might be subject to fines and penalties, the first time such penalties would be linked to testing and quarantine measures for travelers in the United States.”

Let’s break this down. For starters, I don’t think that changing testing requirements from three days in advance to one is a big deal since most travelers are already getting their tests done within 24 hours of their flights and many are done in the airport just before boarding. In fact, I never understood why the U.S. allowed such leeway to begin with because theoretically, one could get tested, then go on a crazy two-day party binge, get exposed to the virus and infect everyone on the plane.

I’ve always thought airline passengers should be tested just before boarding and it may very well be in our future, including for domestic flights. The U.S. entry rules are a lot less restrictive than most countries, as travelers just need an antigen test and not an expensive, difficult-to-find and slow-to-report PCR test like the United Kingdom and Canada.

I also think it makes sense for travelers to get retested within three to five days of arrival but how many really will and how are they going to police it?

Now, the news that the Biden Administration is debating requiring all travelers to self-quarantine for seven days, even if their test results are negative, and be subject to fines, is what’s shocking and is like a dagger to the heart of the tourism industry. The few business travelers who are planning travel here will surely cancel and it will have a significant impact on the VFR (visiting friends and relatives) market. And again, how will they police it? Without supervised quarantines like those conducted in Australia and New Zealand or GPS tracking bracelets as in Hong Kong, it’s just not going to work.

The Trump administration tried to require quarantine for “any Americans who had visited China’s Hubei province, where the disease originated, within the past 14 days.” It was a joke, just like this new rule, if they indeed make it a rule.

One thing is for sure: More testing is in travelers’ futures, especially if it turns out that Omicron can evade our vaccines. It would be smart to stock up on COVID-19 tests so you can be prepared before they all run out, as you know they will.

One thing some savvy travelers do is take a COVID-19 test before they leave for a trip, even if the destination doesn’t require one in advance but rather on entry. For example, according to Afar, “the United Kingdom is asking all international arrivals to take a COVID-19 PCR test by the end of the second day after entering the country and to self-isolate until they receive a negative result.”

This way, they will know if they’re testing positive so they don’t make a long trip. It’s also smart for quick trips to places like Mexico where fully vaccinated travelers don’t need to test to get in but obviously need to for reentry back into the U.S. It’s better to know in advance.

7 Comments On "U.S. to Announce Big Changes for All International Travelers Including Fully Vaccinated Americans Tomorrow -- Here's What You Need to Know"
  1. Carolyn Yapchanyk|

    What kind of tests will be accepted for reentry into the US? We’re supposed to vacation in Barbados in January, and it’s not too clear which are accepted. On the CDC website, it says PCR and antigen. Are all antigen tests Equal?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      You can do either but PCR cost more and take more time to get the results

  2. Karen|

    You assumptions about obtaining a quick covid test the day of flight is not realistic. Having just returned from 6 Months of travel to Namibia, South Africa, and Italy, testing hours varied and did not match early morning flights (including many intl flights) costs in the US were outrageously high $250 per person and because our flight was changed on us, if any of our flights were delayed, our covid test would Have expired along the way (our flight was from Pittsburgh to Namibia via Chicago, Toronto, Frankfurt).

    Additionally, the US wasn’t monitoring arrival tests…the airlines were…and they checked 3 or 4 times before we boarded our Nov flight to the US – Immigration did not ask or look a any covid testing paperwork.

  3. Aallee|

    So, you got fully vaccinated, tested twice and still have to quarantine?? Haha that means the vaccine is not worth and nothing makes sense!

  4. Judy J|

    Did you read that the vaccine does not cover the new variant, the same as a flu vaccine does not cover any new strain that may surface during the season. The current vaccine works on what was the initial Covid. Makers say it will take around 100 days to include Omicron in the next round. We will be having variants for the rest of our lives, so it will turn eventually a yearly vaccine like the flu.

  5. R Cade|

    Really!?? So your position is that loss of freedom and liberty is a great thing do we will be “safer” In 1776 you probably would have argued in favor of taxation without representation so we could keep the British around to keep us safe. We just paid 90Euros for our tests in Lisbon and had to walk a mile from the hotel to get it, to avoid more hassle at the airport. My next vacation will be in January to Texas where they still believe in the land of the free.

  6. Mac Muttfour|

    How much longer for Biden and Fauci. Enough is enough. Time to treat this disease like the common flu, which it will eventually be recognized as resembling.

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