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Travel Rules Update - What You Need to Know

Was it a whole month ago I told you about the newly-minted Covid rules for US travelers returning from overseas? Yes, barely. Now just as we began to head into what we thought was going to be a normal-ish holiday season, along comes Omicron to dominate headlines worldwide and to re- re- re- re-shuffle the travel rules once again. Should travelers be worried about this new variant? This what is known so far:

Should You Change Your Travel Plans?

Not necessarily. Travelers should continue what they are already doing to protect themselves against COVID-19, according to Dr. Jasmine Plummer, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. “Travelers should be vigilant by continuing with all CDC recommendations: Get vaccinated if you haven’t already, including the booster shot if you’re eligible,” she says. “Continue with masking and practice social distancing where possible.”

Right now, we don’t have a lot of information on this new variant. According to the World Health Organization It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible than to other variants, including Delta or if it causes more severe disease compared to other variants. That said, some countries have already closed their borders to tourists, or have enacted travel bans and/or quarantines. Here we go again...maybe?

What Should Travelers Do to Protect Themselves?

Until we know more about the new variant, continue taking the same precautions against COVID-19 that we know are effective while traveling: wear a properly-fitting mask, maintain social distance, and wash your hands frequently. The most important thing that travelers can do to protect themselves against the new variant is to get vaccinated.

What is the New Travel Requirement?

The new, more stringent testing requirement: as of today, Monday, December 6, the U.S. Government requires anyone age 2 and up traveling into the United States to provide a negative PCR or antigen test taken one day before their flight into the U.S. Air passengers must provide contact information to the airline before boarding, to assist with contact tracing.

These requirements remain the same: if you are unvaccinated and have recovered from COVID, proof of recovery will also be accepted for reentry. Documentation of recovery from COVID includes a positive test taken no more than 90 days before the flight, and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider clearing you to travel. Air travelers to the U.S. will be required to provide contact information to the airline before boarding, to assist with contact tracing.

Non- U.S. citizens/nationals/lawful permanent residents and immigrants, have additional requirements for entry, which includes providing proof of vaccination. Those additional requirements and criteria for exceptions can be found here.

'til next week.

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