The United States on Monday began requiring international travelers to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test taken no more than a day before their flight. The move, intended to limit the spread of the Omicron variant, is causing headaches for many passengers.
Previously, fully vaccinated travelers could provide proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours of departure. The new requirement may be difficult for some to meet, as it may take more than a day to receive test results.
The new rules are causing some travelers to wonder if they can stick to their planned routes. They are one more hurdle for Americans who live outside the United States and for foreigners hoping to visit for Christmas and New Years to overcome. From London to Taipei, travelers have pondered what scenarios might emerge during the trip. a trip, such as what would happen if a flight was canceled or if the traveler tested positive en route.
August Dichter, 24, said on Monday he had already spent two to three hours trying to figure out how to meet the test requirements for his scheduled flight to Philadelphia from London on Thursday. Mr Dichter, an American who has just completed a one-year masters program in Wales, said he had received conflicting messages from the airline, with guidelines outlining the new requirement and others saying it still had a 72 hour window.
Mr Dichter said he looked forward to traveling to Europe during his studies, but it had not been easy.
“It’s been a lot of hoops to go through, and I know I’m going to be able to go through them all,” he said. “But they seem to continue to be so tedious, to add up and make the arrival of coming home a little more distant.”
Another American, Candace Thomas, and her partner, James Ridgers, traveled to London from Los Angeles last week for a funeral and said it was difficult to keep up with the rule changes.
“It has been very confusing,” said Ms Thomas, 36, as she and Mr Ridgers, 43, waited in a long line at St. Pancras station in London on Monday to get tested before their flight Tuesday.
“I’m confused right now, actually,” Mr Ridgers said, as the couple did not have an appointment at the St. Pancras testing center and were unsure if they needed one. They found out soon after that they couldn’t get tested without an appointment and made an appointment three hours later.
The start of their journey was also complicated. They arrived before Britain’s two-day quarantine requirement went into effect and ended up quarantining themselves unnecessarily for a day because they were unsure whether the requirement applied to them. The new rules also required a PCR test, so they spent over £ 80 ($ 106) each on testing for the second day of their trip.
“Every morning he would wake up to the news to find out if that had changed or if we were going to need to quarantine longer, or if we were even going to be able to go home,” Ms. Thomas said. noted. “It was really touching and going in there for a little while.”
More than a dozen countries around the world, including the United States, have gone beyond testing requirements and banned travelers who have recently visited one of eight countries in southern Africa. Health experts have criticized the policy and called for caution as little is still known about the Omicron variant, which was first detected and sequenced less than two weeks ago in South Africa.
Dr Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tried to add a point of view Sunday on ABC News “This Week”.
“What we don’t know yet is how transmissible it will be, how well our vaccines will work, if it will lead to more serious illness,” Dr Walensky said.
The stricter testing requirement for inbound travelers came into effect just as air travel was experiencing a rebound. The Sunday after Thanksgiving has been the busiest travel day at U.S. airports since February 2020, according to the Transportation Security Administration.