Federal regulations regarding travel are changing by the day—if not the hour.
On the day after his inauguration as president, Joe Biden announced that, starting Tuesday, January 26, travelers entering the United States from abroad will be required to self-quarantine in addition to showing proof of negative coronavirus test results.
Note that U.S. citizens returning from vacations in other countries are not exempt from these rules.
The new quarantine requirement was issued as part of an executive order that cites CDC guidelines for stopping the spread of Covid-19.
A CDC webpage recommends staying home for seven days after international travel, even if you test negative for the virus after your trip. The page also includes helpful lists of countries experiencing high coronavirus infections—most of the world right now, sadly—as well as other safety measures.
At this point, there are no specifics on how quarantines would be enforced, but a plan is in the works for that.
Biden's executive order requires the secretaries of Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Homeland Security to work with the government's Covid-19 response coordinator to come up with feasible procedures.
The quarantine enforcement plan should "identify agencies’ tools and mechanisms to assist travelers in complying" with the policy, according to the executive order.
The agencies mentioned above will also be in charge of setting clear rules on what types of Covid-19 tests will be accepted for those returning to the United States, what sort of test documentation will be required, what the time frame for those tests will ultimately be, and what methods will be established to clamp down on fraudulent tests—already a problem, as Frommer's has reported.
Perhaps most heartening, the executive order announces that the United States will be coordinating its regulations with "foreign governments, the World Health Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association, and any other relevant stakeholders to establish guidelines for public health measures associated with safe international travel, including on aircraft and at ports of entry."
In other words, the United States is no longer trying to go it alone, but is instead cooperating with traditional allies and international experts.
Here's hoping that tougher rules for travel now will mean the return of safe journeys sooner rather than later.