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Washington DC- On December 2, 2021, President Biden announced additional travel protocols in immediate response to the World Health Organization (WHO) naming the Omicron variant as a concern. The new travel protocols are designed to combat COVID-19 Delta and Omicron variants and provide additional protections for Americans and will take effect December 6, 2021.  

All inbound international travelers must test for COVID-19 within one day of departure globally, regardless of nationality or vaccination status. Previously, travelers were able to get tested three days before departure. Importantly, passengers may test at any time up to a day before they are scheduled to board a flight, even if that means testing more than 24 hours before departure. In other words, if a flight departs Saturday evening, a test that’s taken Friday morning will allow the passenger to board. Tests must meet criteria set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and may be either a PCR or an antigen test, better known as a rapid test. But not all rapid tests pass muster. For example, at-home testing must be affiliated with a telehealth provider so that it can be observed by a professional who can confirm the result.

Masking during international, rail travel, and public transportation will continue to be mandatory and extended until March 18, 2022 (originally set to expire January 2022). Fines for noncompliance will be doubled from their initial levels with the minimum fine of $500 and fines of up to $3,000 for repeat offenders.