The US government will introduce revised entry requirements for international travellers from ‘early next week’ according to a statement released by the White House.
Under the revised measures, all inbound international travellers ‘of all nationalities and vaccine status’ will be required to conduct a pre-departure Covid test within one day of their departure to be granted entry. According to the White House, the move is intended to provide ‘an added degree of public health protection as scientists continue to assess the Omicron variant’.
The current requirements, introduced following the easing of US border restrictions on 8 November for fully vaccinated nationals of 33 countries including the UK, Ireland and members of the Schengen area, allow for international travellers to be tested up to three days before departure.
The statement also confirmed that the requirement to wear a mask on all forms of domestic and international public transport including aircraft and trains will be extended until 18 March. The restrictions will also be extended for transportation hubs such as airports and indoor bus terminals. Individuals can be fined a minimum of US$500 for non-compliance with the measure, or up to $3,000 for repeat offenders.
Alongside the new changes to Covid travel measures, the statement also outlined government plans to expand testing and vaccination measures across the country.
The announcement follows the introduction of new travel measures by the US on 29 November, which restricted non-US citizens from travelling into the country from the southern African nations of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
The measures drew criticism from the US Travel Association, who urged the Biden administration to reconsider the measures.
Tori Emerson Barnes, the US Travel Association’s Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy, said: “Covid variants are of concern, but closed borders have not prevented their presence in the United States while vaccinations have proven incredibly durable. That is why America’s travel industry is a vocal proponent of everyone getting a vaccine. With a vaccine and testing requirement in place to enter the US we continue to believe that assessing an individual’s risk and health status is the best way to welcome qualified global travellers into the United States.”