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Domestic Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic
COVID-19 Alert: Cases are Rising
COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across the United States are rising. As cold weather moves in, people spend more time indoors. As the holidays approach, take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet apart, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often. The more steps you take, the more you are protected against COVID-19. View cases in the U.S. and cases by state on CDC’s COVID Data Tracker.
Biden Lifts Controversial Travel Ban on Muslim Majority Countries
President Joe Biden this week reversed a controversial travel ban on certain countries with majority Muslim populations in one of his first efforts to overturn actions taken by his predecessor, Donald Trump.
“The United States was built on a foundation of religious freedom and tolerance, a principle enshrined in the United States Constitution. Nevertheless, the previous administration enacted a number of Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations that prevented certain individuals from entering the United States — first from primarily Muslim countries, and later, from largely African countries,” Biden wrote in his presidential action reversing the ban on Wednesday. “Those actions are a stain on our national conscience and are inconsistent with our long history of welcoming people of all faiths and no faith at all.”
The executive order, criticized as a Muslim ban, was first enacted in 2017 and jeopardized the visas of people in several countries, including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The order was immediately challenged in court and went through several iterations with a more narrow version eventually upheld by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote.
In January 2020, Trump again considered widening the ban to include more countries like Myanmar, Sudan, and Tanzania.
CDC Mandates COVID Tests for Anyone Flying to the U.S.
If you’re flying into the U.S. on January 26 or later, you’re going to need proof of a negative COVID-19 test to enter the country, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The new rule applies to U.S. citizens as well as foreign travelers. Air passengers will be required to obtain a viral test within three days of the departure date of their flight. Written documentation (paper or electronic copy) must be showed to the airline in order to board the plane.
According to the CDC, travelers can show “documentation of recovery” from COVID-19 in lieu of a test, however, the CDC did not specify how long ago a person must have recovered from the virus.
The order was signed on January 12, but will not take effect until January 26 in order to give airlines and passengers sufficient notice to comply.
This mandatory step adds an extra layer of protection to the CDC’s current recommendation that people get tested again 3-5 days after returning home, as well as quarantine for 7 days after travel.
“Testing does not eliminate all risk, ”CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD said in a press release, “but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations.”