Omicron Leads to New Travel Restrictions, Booster Push

12.07.2021
HR & Safety

New travel restrictions are now in effect for international travelers amid heightened concerns about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Beginning Dec. 6, air travelers to the U.S. will need a COVID-19 viral test no more than one day before flying.

Travelers must show proof of a negative result to the airline before boarding a flight to the U.S., based on a directive from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As part of the Biden administration’s updated travel rules, mask requirements for domestic flights and public transit were also extended to March 18. 

The international testing requirement is for anyone two years and older regardless of vaccination or citizenship status.

Travelers who can show proof they recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days are exempt from the testing rule. 

Testing Timeline

The CDC notes the day before testing timeline allows for passengers to get a test at any time the day before flying, regardless of what time their flight is scheduled.

For example, a person who is scheduled to fly Sunday at 8 pm would need to have taken a test any time on Saturday.

The CDC said the viral test can either be an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test, and must be authorized for use in the country where the test was administered. 

Some rapid tests are accepted by the CDC, which can ensure results pre-departure. Self-tests are also acceptable in some cases, if they are taken in front of a telehealth proctor among other guidelines

The CDC also recommends travelers get a COVID-19 viral test between three and five days after arriving in the U.S. People who are not vaccinated should quarantine for at least seven days after traveling.

Booster Shots

Meanwhile, state and federal leaders are urging adults to get their booster shot in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. 

At least 23 countries have identified Omicron cases. A number of states in the U.S. have also detected the variant, including Connecticut. 

The Lamont administration said a Hartford County man who tested positive for the virus, later determined to be the Omicron variant, first showed symptoms Nov. 27. 

Members of the administration are spending time traveling throughout the state this month to encourage people to get their booster shot. 

The CDC announced Nov. 29 that anyone 18 and older who is fully vaccinated should get a COVID-19 booster shot. Fully vaccinated people are eligible for the booster shot six months after completing their primary vaccination series. 

Studies show protection against the virus and the ability to prevent infection with variants may decrease over time. The boosters, however, have proven to increase the immune response, countering the decline. 

The FDA said any of the authorized COVID-19 booster shots are appropriate.

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