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White House Mandates COVID-19 Tests and Face Masks for Air Travel

True to his word, president Joe Biden has announced a new set of rules for international travelers arriving in the United States to help stop the spread of COVID-19. In addition to requiring the use of face coverings on public transportation, flyers will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test and potentially self-quarantine.

Fulfilling a campaign promise, president Joe Biden has signed a sweeping mandate requiring airlines to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The executive order is one of the first of his administration, and requires testing for incoming passengers and face covering usage aboard all aircraft.

Rule Requires Face Coverings on All Transport, and COVID-19 Tests for International Flyers

Under the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation refused to issue any rule requiring airlines or other public carriers to adopt a face covering requirement. With the new executive order, passengers on airlines, trains, ferries, inter-city busses and all other forms of public transportation will be required to use a face covering for the duration of their trip. While the executive order falls short of announcing civil or criminal penalties for non-compliance, airlines have collectively banned over 2,700 passengers for not wearing a face covering and other disruptive behavior.

The new rules also extend to international travelers who intend to enter the United States. Within two weeks, flyers will be required to provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test upon arrival, along with complying with a recommended period of self-quarantine. The president has tasked multiple agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control, the Transportation Department, the Homeland Security Department and the Transportation Security Administration, to determine the necessary measures.

The new regulations are part of Biden’s national strategy for the COVID-19 response and pandemic preparedness, published by the White House on Jan. 21, 2021. The document outlines over 100 pages of response actions to stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus, including new requirements on airlines and passengers arriving from international destinations.

“Ensuring that people can safely travel will be critical for families and to jumpstarting the economy, which is why the President issued an executive order that requires mask-wearing on certain public modes of transportation and at ports of entry to the United States,” the guide reads. “For international air travel, Executive Order Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel requires a recent negative COVID-19 test result prior to departure and quarantine on arrival, consistent with CDC guidelines.”

New Rules May Follow Established COVID-19 Guidelines

Although the executive order did not establish the new protocols, it is expected to follow current requirements for international travel, along with guidelines from the CDC. As it stands today, Hawaii and other nations require tests to be taken within 72 hours of travel, while quarantines last for two weeks.

pauli5500 January 31, 2021

So how about cruise passengers? We'd need to get a rapid test upon disembarkation from the ship and hope the line wasn't too long and hope that we could make our flight.

htb January 25, 2021

@Fonsini: there's an incubation period of two weeks and sometimes apparently even longer. A negative test result doesn't mean that you aren't already infected and will develop and speak Covid 7 days later. The goal of quarantine and maybe a test at the end of three isolation period is to minimize the risk of transmission.

Fonsini January 25, 2021

So I prove I don’t have COVID but still can’t leave the house for 10 days ? What’s the point ??

UncleDude January 25, 2021

Still no mention of arrangements for US Residents who have had COVID Vaccine.Similar with WHO and virtually every other country.

skchin January 25, 2021

Nice, fewer people will fly to avoid the hassle or casual flyer forgetting the requirement and denied boarding.