The Biden administration is weighing whether to require all travelers entering the U.S. to quarantine for seven days, regardless of their COVID-19 test results, to curb the spread of the potentially dangerous Omicron variant.

Three federal health officials told The Washington Post that officials are debating about this "controversial proposal" that will require all travelers, including U.S. citizens, to self-quarantine for one week even if their COVID test results are negative and may fine those who refuse.

It comes as President Joe Biden prepared his winter COVID strategy, which he plans to announce on Thursday, The Daily Mail reported.

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Biden Admin Considers Penalizing U.S. Travelers Who Refuse to Comply

If the Biden administration implements fines and penalties to those who refuse to comply, it will be the first time federal fines are linked to quarantine and testing measures for travelers in the U.S.

The Biden administration also wants to require everyone entering the U.S. to be tested a day before boarding flights, regardless of their vaccination status or country from which they are leaving. 

The administration also considers that all travelers will get tested again within three to five days of arrival.

The three unnamed officials said the self quarantine-related measures have not been included yet in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) draft public health order but could be added later if they gain more support.

The draft is currently under review by officials in the Health and Human Services Department and the White House. 

Biden Admin Considers Measures to Protect Americans Against Omicron Variant

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday that the CDC is considering several measures to protect U.S. citizens against the Omicron variant.

According to Walensky, among these measures were to "make international travel as safe as possible, including pre-departure testing closer to the time of flight, and considerations around additional post-arrival testing and self-quarantines."

Epidemiologist and infectious diseases expert Celine Gounder, who was part of Joe Biden's COVID-19 response transition team, lauded the stricter testing.

"If it were up to me, to fly you should be fully vaccinated and we should also be testing 24 hours prior' to flight," Gounder told the Washington Post.

Currently, the U.S. requires pre-departure testing for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers to the country. Those who can show proof of vaccination must get tested no more than three days before the flight to the U.S. departs. Meanwhile, unvaccinated individuals are required to get tested no more than one day before the flight to the U.S. leaves.

It is not yet clear when the new policies will take effect. But one of the federal health officials said it could take effect "as soon as next week."

The new protocols concerning the travelers came a day after Joe Biden said there was no need for lockdowns despite the concerns for the Omicron variant. However, he reiterated that people should still wear face masks in indoor and crowded areas.

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This article is owned by Latin Post.

Written by: Joshua Summers

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