Science and Policy in Action
On January 21, 2021 President Biden issued the Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel. The document comprises science-based public health measures critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 by travelers within the US and those entering from abroad. It calls for interagency collaboration, and strict compliance by the public.
Lucky for you, I've read through the lengthy document and summarized its key points that will affect how you travel from now on.
Major Mask Mandates, and More
A national mask mandate will apply to all forms of public transportation, including airports, commercial aircraft, trains, maritime vessels, and buses.
The executive order also asks that the Secretaries of Transportation, and Homeland Security, TSA, and US Coast Guard work with the CDC on additional policies addressing quarantine, testing, vaccination, follow-up testing and symptom-monitoring, air filtration requirements, environmental decontamination standards, and contact tracing.
Do Not Pass Go
Anyone seeking to enter the US from abroad (via any mode of transport) will be required to:
Provide proof of negative COVID test, and
Comply with recommended periods of self-isolation or self-quarantine
Over the next few weeks, government agencies will assess the CDC order introduced on Jan. 12 that requires airline passengers produce a negative test or proof that they've recovered from COVID-19 upon entry to the US.
Additional regulations related to the CDC order will pertain to:
Types and timing of tests required
Accepted forms of proof
How to provide testing access and self-isolation for US citizens returning from places where tests are inaccessible
Measures to prevent fraud
Land and Sea Ports of Entry
In contrast to the previous administration's strategy, the current White House encourages collaboration among gov't agencies, and with other countries.
The executive order tasks agencies to work w/Canada and Mexico on a plan to implement public health measures at land ports of entry. Likewise, the Coast Guard and others will devise a plan to implement public health measures at sea ports.
Both plans must be on the President's desk within 14 days.
Proof of Vaccination
A team of governmental agencies has been tasked with assessing the feasibility of linking vaccination to International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (like your Yellow Card), and producing electronic versions of ICVPs.
The globally recognized certificate proving that its holder has been immunized is a hot-topic within the medical and travel industries. Some believe it should be a requirement for travel. Others believe that electronic ICVPs would increase inequities for those without access to technology.
Reality Check: Traveling with Require Much More Planning
Gone are the days of last-minute international trips, and "staying a few extra days".
Travelers will need to pack PPE to comply with local/national mask mandates, and to ensure they don't contract COVID-19 while out of the country. Before departure, US citizens going abroad will need to research testing sites at their destination that can return results within the window required for re-entry. Should they become infected, they'll need funds and housing for the duration of a required self-isolation.
Are these new rules too restrictive? How will it impact your travel plans for 2021?