Dec 1, 2021 - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Picture of a yellow sign that says testing is available in this airport
Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure.

  • Unvaccinated individuals are required to show a test conducted no more than one day before their flight.

Catch up quick: CDC director Rochelle Walensky had said Tuesday during the White House COVID-19 press briefing that the agency was "evaluating how to make international travel as safe as possible, including pre-departure tests closer to time of flight."

What they're saying: "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," the CDC said in an emailed statement.

  • "This strengthens already robust protocols in place for international travel, including requirements for foreign travelers to be fully vaccinated."

What to watch: The CDC has not provided a timeline for when new testing rules will be implemented, but President Biden is set to provide more details on Thursday on how the administration will be fighting the coronavirus this winter.

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