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US Tightens Testing Requirements for All Travelers

Washington (AP) — The Biden administration has tightened testing requirements for international travelers to the U.S., including both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, amid the spread of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that they will now require that all air travelers to the U.S. be tested for COVID-19 within a day before boarding their flight. The new requirement takes effect on December 6, 2021.

The move comes just weeks after the U.S. largely reopened its borders to fully vaccinated foreign travelers on Nov. 8 and instituted a two-tiered testing system that allowed fully vaccinated travelers more time to seek a pre-arrival test, while requiring a test within a day of boarding for the unvaccinated.

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“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 agency said last week.

Much remains unknown about the new variant, which has been identified in more than 20 countries, including whether it is more contagious, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart the vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said more would be known about the omicron strain in two to four weeks as scientists grow and test lab samples of the virus.

As he sought to quell public concern about the new variant, President Joe Biden said that in his Thursday remarks, “I’ll be putting forward a detailed strategy outlining how we’re going to fight COVID this winter — not with shutdowns or lockdowns but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing, and more.”

Asked by reporters if he would consult with allies about any changes in travel rules, given that former President Donald Trump had caught world leaders by surprise, Biden said, “Unlike Trump I don’t shock our allies.”

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