Biden: Travellers flying into US must test negative for Covid-19 within 24 hours

2 December 2021, 19:43 | Updated: 2 December 2021, 20:00

Joe Biden said the Omicron variant is a ‘cause for concern’
Joe Biden said the Omicron variant is a ‘cause for concern’. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

All passengers on inbound flights to the US will have to test negative for Covid-19 within one day of departure regardless of their vaccination status, US President Joe Biden has said.

Mr Biden announced: "While we know the travel restrictions can slow the spread of Omicron, they cannot prevent it. But it does give us a little more time to take precautions at home".

“This variant is a cause for concern, but not panic," he said.

"We’re going to fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion."

A face mask requirement on all US domestic flights and public transport has been extended until March 18.

The new testing rules apply to all inbound international travellers regardless of vaccination status.

They will begin as early as next week, according to reports.

Previously, the US required proof of a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of departure, though this was tightened to only vaccinated travellers last month.

Unvaccinated travellers needed to present a negative Covid test within one day of departure.

The US requires mask use on buses, trains, planes and in transportation hubs such as indoor bus terminals and airports.

Fines for those who fail to wear a mask start at $500, and can rise to $3,000 for repeat offenders.