New travel restrictions take effect, requiring COVID testing for vaccinated travelers entering U.S.

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President Biden’s latest COVID-19 rule goes into effect Monday, requiring all international travelers, including Americans, to test negative for COVID-19 within 24 hours of their departure to the United States – no matter whether they are vaccinated or not. 

The White House announced Thursday that the U.S. will “tighten pre-departure testing protocols by requiring all inbound international travelers to test within one day of departure globally, regardless of nationality or vaccination status.” A senior administration official confirmed to Fox News Friday that the restriction will go into effect Monday. 

President Biden delivers remarks on the debt ceiling during an event in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, in Washington. 
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“This tighter testing timeline provides an added degree of public health protection as scientists continue to assess the Omicron variant.,” the White House added. 

Biden announced this requirement among a swath of other actions, including the extension of mandatory masking on public transportation and in airports until March 18, creating “Winter COVID emergency response team[s],” buying a stockpile of coronavirus therapeutics, and working to provide more at-home virus tests. 

“We’re going to fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion, just like we beat back COVID-19 in the spring and more powerful variant — Delta variant in the summer and fall,” Biden said Thursday as he unveiled his “COVID-19 Winter Plan.” 

Travellers queue at a check-in counter at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on November 27, 2021, after several countries banned flights from South Africa following the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant Omicron. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP) (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden also said Friday that he does not believe the White House will have to go beyond these measures to institute a vaccine requirement for domestic travel – at least “at this point.” 

“The measures that I announced yesterday are — we believe are sufficient to deal with the proper medical precautions to deal with the spread of this new variant,” he said. “But we do require for travel — we’re going to continue to require people to have masks on — masks on — and in public places, and — and federal buildings.”

Biden added: “I continue to rely on the scientists and asking them whether or not we have to move beyond what we did yesterday. Right now, they’re saying no.”

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy delivers remarks during a news conference with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki at the White House in Washington, July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
(REUTERS/Tom Brenner)

Republicans argue that the vaccine requirements and masking rules the Biden administration is pushing are doing little but infringing on the freedom of Americans and hurting the economy. But Democrats and administration health advisers continue to say these steps are necessary to curb virus spread. 

“What we’ve been seeing actually since the summertime is that if you are vaccinated or unvaccinated and gathered with people outside your household in indoor spaces, that wearing a mask is the recommended step to take to help reduce the potential for spread,” Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told “Fox News Sunday.” 

“These are strong measures we put in place and, you know, I think we’ve continually shown a desire to use every lever we have to make sure that people are protected, they’re vaccinated, and we get to the end of this pandemic as quickly as we can,” he added. 

Fox News’ Edward Lawrence contributed to this report. 

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