- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 1, 2021

President Biden is looking to impose a more stringent requirement for travelers entering the U.S. as he preps a Thursday speech on his plan to stave off a winter spike in COVID-19 cases and deal with the omicron threat.

A draft proposal would require all travelers to be tested within 24 hours of plane departure regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. It was unclear whether a rapid antigen test would be acceptable, as many travelers have trouble getting results from sensitive “PCR” tests under the current 72-hour rule.

“CDC is working to modify the current Global Testing Order for travel as we learn more about the omicron variant; a revised order would shorten the timeline for required testing for all international air travelers to one day before departure to the United States,” said Jade Fulce, spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Washington Post reported that the administration also is considering whether to mandate travelers to get tested again within three to five days after arrival and whether U.S. and foreign travelers should self-quarantine for seven days regardless of test results or face fines, according to The Post.

The proposals would face a raft of challenges, including the practical and legal impediments to enforcing a self-quarantine.

But they underscore the global hand-wringing over the omicron variant that has alarming mutations and has been detected in nearly 20 countries, though not in the U.S. so far.

Mr. Biden, who barred travel from South Africa and surrounding nations where the variant appears prevalent, is scheduled to outline a plan for dealing with the variant and overall pandemic on Thursday.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hinted at new rules during a COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday.

“As we have done throughout the pandemic, CDC is evaluating how to make international travel as safe as possible, including pre-departure testing closer to the time of flight and considerations around additional post-arrival testing and self-quarantines,” Dr. Walensky said.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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