Biden Administration Tightens Travel Testing Requirements, Mask Mandates

Kamari Esquerra

On Thursday morning, President Biden announced a stricter testing guideline for international travel, requiring all inbound travelers to test negative for COVID-19 within 24 hours of departure regardless of vaccination status.

“We didn’t expect any of this to be happening when we came down here,” said NBC Palm Springs Special Correspondent Dan Adams. 

Adams is vacationing in Mexico for the holidays, and said he will have to make some last minute adjustments during his trip due to the new COVID-19 testing protocol. 

The new policy shortens the time from the current rule that requires a negative COVID-19 test within three days of departure.

“We did know that we had to take a COVID test 72 hours before our return so we made the appointment for that,” said Adams. ”But with today’s development, we have to cancel that and take another test 24 hours before the flight leaves.”

The new travel rules will apply to both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals flying into the country. International travelers are required to be vaccinated, while U.S. citizens are not.

Travelers from all over the world fly to and from the Palm Springs International Airport daily, some sharing their thoughts about yet another COVID mandate.

“I understand the need for increased testing and a little bit closer to the flight time is probably not a bad idea,” said Adams.

“I’m from Toronto, Canada and I’d love to go back for a visit, but I don’t dare and I feel better not going back right now because I don’t want to catch anything and I don’t want to spread anything,” said Marilynn Johnson, a Michigan resident. “I think they should give vaccinated people a little bit of leeway.” 

The President will also extend mask mandates on aircraft, trains, and other public transportation through at least March in an effort to combat the Omicron variant. 

“We’re so used to so much freedom that it is difficult, but I can get over it,” said Johnson. 

“It’s a little restricted, a lot of things are restricted,” said Angel Lara, a San Jose resident. “I don’t mind it as much, it is a little tough here and there, but you know, it is what it is.” 

“The biggest thing I think is for people’s safety,” said Cheryl Schindel, a LaQuinta and Canada resident. “The pandemic, nobody wanted it of course, but now we’re stuck and we gotta just deal with it.” 

“Frankly, it’s probably out of an abundance of caution. I don’t think anybody is really interested in the airlines going dark again. I think people would really lose their minds if travel was cut off again,” said one Minneapolis traveler. “I think it’s important that everybody protect each other so that we can all maintain some semblance of real life in a safe manner.”

The new COVID-19 testing rule for travelers entering the United States will go into effect on Monday, Dec. 6. 

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