Omicron variant: US to require travellers to take a COVID test 24 hours before their flight to the US

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International travelers coming to the United States from anywhere in the world including American citizens will have to present proof of a negative covid test taken within 24 hours of their departure.

U.S. President Joe Biden made the announcement on Thursday, December 2 amid growing concerns around the new Omicron variant.

The new rules will take effect early next week, according to a White House briefing. All U.S.-bound international travellers will need to take a test within one day of their departure, regardless of nationality or vaccination status. Unvaccinated travellers are not allowed to enter the U.S., with limited exceptions.

Mask-wearing will also be required in all mass transit hubs and airports until March 18. The mandate had been set to expire on January 18.

The president said Americans should be prepared for a rise in coronavirus cases over the winter, but maintained it should simply be a cause for concern rather than panic.

The U.S. announcement comes just days after Canada announced that U.S. travellers were exempt from the new travel measures. Currently, fully vaccinated air travellers from all countries except the U.S. must get tested upon arrival at a Canadian airport. They will need to go into quarantine until their test comes back negative.

Canada’s health minister, Jean-Yves Duclos, said the government would meet with the provinces to discuss measures with the U.S. So far, there have been no further developments made public since November 30.


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