US: Quarantine Required for All Travellers, Europe Travel Ban Still in Effect

US: Quarantine Required for All Travellers, Europe Travel Ban Still in Effect

As the global pandemic drags on, the United States President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order that will require all international passengers to quarantine upon arrival including U.S citizens. The new quarantine order comes hand in hand with the new testing requirement that is coming into effect on January 26, 2021.

Included in the executive order is the mandate on making face masks on flights and all types of public transportation federal law. President Biden has already mandated masks on federal property.

Executive Order

The White House released the official order a few hours after Biden's press conference. The order states:

“It is the policy of my Administration that, to the extent feasible, travelers seeking to enter the United States from a foreign country shall be: 

  1. required to produce proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test prior to entry; and 
  2. required to comply with other applicable CDC guidelines concerning international travel, including recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the United States.”

Testing Before Arrival

From January 26, 2021, proof of a negative covid test is mandatory to all travellers over the age of two, arriving in the US on international flights, including returning US citizens and residents.

The test must be performed with results available within 72 hours of arrival into the USA. Both PCR and rapid antigen type tests are accepted.

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Mandatory Quarantine

Even after fulfilling the pre-flight testing requirement, arrivals into the USA will also have a quarantine to complete. It is unknown at this time if a ‘test to release’ program will also come into effect that would allow those in quarantine to take a test, upon which the negative results will release them from isolation early.

The CDC is recommending that quarantine periods should be 10 days without testing, and as short as 7 days with a ‘test to release' type of program.

Many individual states have been free to make their own rules around quarantines, until now. States including Hawaii, New York and California have already been requiring a 10-day quarantine for travelers, while other states like Alaska, New Mexico and Oregon have stuck with the full 14-days.

However, over 25 states currently have no quarantine in place for returning travellers, and will be most affected by the new executive order.

Details of the new quarantine mandate haven’t yet been hammered out just yet and President Biden has asked federal agencies to submit within the next 14 days their recommendations regarding the appropriate duration of quarantine, and acceptable timing and types of COVID tests under this order.

Coronavirus Travel Bans

Last year, US President Trump suspended indefinitely the entry of foreign nationals who have been physically present in certain countries during the 14 days prior to entering the United States including flight connections and layovers. Excluded from the ban are U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. 

This ban remains in place until it is terminated by President Biden. International travellers should not be in the following countries 14 days prior to travel in the US.

  • China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), 
  • Iran, 
  • Brazil, 
  • The United Kingdom, 
  • Ireland, 
  • The Schengen area of Europe comprising Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The ban only applies to anyone who has been physically present in one of the banned countries during the 14 days prior to entering the United States. To know how to avoid the travel ban without breaking the rules, check out our blog post here.

Update: According to the recent US Presidential proclamation, starting 26th January, South Africa will be included on the list of countries banned from travelling to the United States due to new strain of COVID-19 found in the country.

What are your thoughts on these stricter rules of travel and travel ban? Comment below.

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