The Biden administration is considering whether to force all travelers returning to the U.S. to quarantine for seven days to curb the spread of the potentially dangerous omicron variant – and may fine those who refuse, three federal health officials told the Washington Post.
Travelers would not be able to forgo the potential quarantine mandate, even with a negative Covid test. It comes as Biden deliberates his winter Covid strategy, which he plans to announce Thursday, and would be the first time federal fines are linked to quarantine and testing measures for U.S. travelers.
Biden’s tentative plan would also require everyone entering the country to be tested one day before boarding flights, regardless of their vaccination status or country from which they’re leaving. Another requirement could force all travelers to get tested again within three to five days of arrival.
Natalie Quillian, the deputy coordinator for the Covid response at the White House, said in an interview on Monday that the arrival of the Omicron variant had prompted the administration to re-evaluate its efforts to ensure that people entering the country were not carrying the virus.
“We’re constantly looking at what can we do to make that travel system even stronger,” she said. “For example, right now we’re assessing all of our tests to make sure they’re effective in picking up this variant.”
She added: “If we found that a test was not effective at picking up the variant, we would remove that from the list that is accepted to enter the country.”