The Biden administration is expected to extend mask mandates while traveling on domestic flights, trains, and public transportation and require testing for international arrivals in response to the new omicron variant of the coronavirus.
President Joe Biden will implement new COVID-19 mitigation efforts for travelers Thursday that will extend the mask mandates on planes, trains, and buses through March 2022, two months longer than the previous mandate scheduled to end Jan. 18. International air travelers will need to submit to COVID-19 testing within 24 hours of arrival in the United States, according to sources briefed on the matter by the White House and Transportation Security Administration. An announcement will likely come later Thursday.
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On Wednesday, the first case of omicron in the U.S. was reported in San Francisco by a traveler who had recently returned from South Africa. The previous mask order extended through Jan. 18, 2022, and will now last until at least March 18. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tuesday that it was working with the president to craft new regulations in response to concerns about the new omicron virus strain discovered in South Africa last week.
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The Biden administration restricted travel from eight southern African countries in response. The variant, which currently appears to cause mild symptoms, was found in numerous other countries and requires further study to verify its risk potential.