TAMPA (WFLA) As millions of people take to the skies this holiday season, the federal government has introduced new rules to limit the spread of COVID-19 and the new omicron variant.
All international travelers coming to the US will now have to show evidence of a negative COVID-19 test performed within 24 hours of departure. This is regardless of your vaccination status and nationality.
This replaces a similar three-day requirement that was in effect from early November.
President Joe Biden said this tighter test schedule allows for an increased degree of protection as scientists continue to study this variant.
The White House said there is still no vaccination mandate or testing requirement for those flying inland, but it is keeping its options open.
“I would say nothing is off the table, including domestic travel,” said press secretary Jen Psaki. “We have some protections already in place including the requirement to wear masks.”
Thomas Habel and his wife, Linda, flew from Tampa International Airport on Monday morning and departed for Cancun, Mexico. The Habels family said their resort hosted a rehearsal the day before their flight home to abide by the new rule.
“It’s what it is. We are just sticking to it. “We will make sure we do what we have to do when we go to Cancun and when we return,” Abel said.
The move comes after the White House announced a travel ban from South Africa and seven other African countries by non-US nationals due to the omicron variant.
“We both got our vaccines and we had booster vaccines and the flu vaccine,” Abel said. “We are good to go. “We are very safe, we are fine, we do not worry about anything.”
The Transportation Safety Administration has extended the requirement to wear a mask on planes, trains, subways and other public transportation hubs, including airports and bus terminals during the winter. The fines, which doubled earlier this year, will remain in the $ 500- $ 3,000 range.
The demand for masks has sparked occasional confrontations and fights on planes. Airlines have reported more than 5,000 incidents of undisciplined passengers to federal authorities since the beginning of the year, with about three-quarters of the incidents involving passengers refusing to wear masks.
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