Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers

On Jan. 21, on his second day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order entitled "On Promoting Covid-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel."

In addition to requiring masks on all forms of public transportation, the order required international travelers not only to have a negative Covid-19 test to enter or return to the U.S but also to self-quarantine upon arrival in the U.S.

The CDC had alerted the travel industry weeks in advance of the negative test required on entry to the U.S., which took effect Jan. 26, but the wording of the quarantine ruling remained a bit fuzzy and vague.

"Travelers seeking to enter the United States from a foreign country shall be required to comply with other applicable CDC guidelines concerning international travel, including recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the U.S.," the order stated.

Current CDC guidelines recommend seven days of self-quarantine following international travel with a Covid test three to five days into the quarantine. If a traveler cannot get a test, the CDC recommends a 10-day self-quarantine period.

The Biden administration has put out a call for recommendations on how government officials could implement that policy.

The U.S. Travel Association called the quarantine requirement for international travelers "difficult to enforce -- and unnecessary in light of required testing and the many other protections now in place."

Vaccine record covid [Credit: Evgenia Parajanian/Shutterstock.com]
Photo Credit: Evgenia Parajanian/Shutterstock.com

As Covid-19 results have increasingly become a requirement for travel, fraudulent test documents have become a concern.

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Discussion of the quarantine ruling came up during a Zoom webinar hosted by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association on Jan. 26 that was committed to understanding and adjusting to travel rules implemented by the U.S., U.K. and Canada.  

Since that webinar, Canada has drastically tightened its travel rules and is requiring travelers to quarantine at a hotel. But the rule is somewhat moot for the Caribbean, as Canada also has suspended air travel to the islands for the next three months.

Peter Cerda, regional vice president of the Americas for IATA, pointed out that the quarantine "is recommended, not mandated" by the U.S. "The CDC is looking into it. There are so many different procedures in place. Some states require a quarantine period for returning travelers, others do not."

Cerda does not believe a quarantine is the right solution. "Testing and vaccines will do it."

"The tourism industry was heavily impacted in 2020 although by year's end it began to recuperate, but now the medical industry is overwhelmed both at home and abroad, and the Covid variants have been added to the picture," he said.

"Add quarantine to that for travelers once they arrive in the U.S. and it could dampen the desire to travel," he said.

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