This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
The White House is requiring all inbound international travelers to test negative for Covid-19 within one day of travel to the U.S. beginning early next week, down from the previous 72-hour requirement. The administration formally announced the tighter testing protocols today as part of a wider range of actions to grapple with the ongoing pandemic and particularly in light of the discovery of the Omicron variant.
A shortened testing timeline will provide an “added degree of public health protection as scientists continue to assess the Omicron variant,” the White House said. Administration officials confirmed that testing requirements are regardless of nationality or vaccination status. However, foreign nationals who travel into the U.S. must be vaccinated.
“We believe, and our doctors believe, that tightening that testing requirement for pre-departure will help catch more cases—potential cases of people who may be positive before they fly into this country,” according to an administration official. “We think now is the right time to do it, and we can implement it very quickly.”
In addition, the administration is extending its mask requirements on airplanes, rail travel, and public transportation through March 18 to combat the pandemic through the winter, it said. Those in noncompliance will face a minimum fine of $500 for first-time offenders and up to $3,000 for repeat offenders.