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International travelers should expect to see stricter COVID testing requirements to enter US amid omicron variant

US officials would require travelers to get a COVID test done one day before boarding a flight, regardless of their vaccination status or the place of departure.

COLORADO, USA — Less than a month ago, the United States opened its borders to fully vaccinated tourists after maintaining restrictions for more than 18 months that only allowed essential travel.

According to a recent Associated Press report, with the recent discovery of the new COVID variant omicron and as part of an enhanced winter COVID strategy, the president is expected to announce stricter testing requirements Thursday. 

U.S. officials would require all travelers to get a COVID test done one day before boarding a flight, regardless of their vaccination status or the country from which they departed, according to the report.

The administration is also considering measures such as a seven-day self-quarantine and a retest several days after arrival in the country. Visitors who do not fulfill the requirements could be subject to fines and penalties, according to a Washington Post report.

In a White House statement, a U.S. health official said the country now has the tools it needs to deal with the new omicron variant and that it will continue to make progress in the war against the virus underscoring what the president said about omicron, "this new variant is cause for concern, but not for panic."

Due to the global coronavirus pandemic and to stop the spread of the virus, in March 2020, the U.S. decided to close its land borders to tourists traveling to the country for non-essential reasons.

On Nov. 8, the U.S. began allowing fully vaccinated tourists to enter through land and sea ports of entry. 

Currently, a person is considered to be fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of the two-dose vaccine, or two weeks later if it is a single-dose vaccine.

While people who are not vaccinated can only enter the country for essential reasons. 

Current requirements to enter the United States by land

  • Adults 18 years of age and older must provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as described by the CDC. 
  • You must be able to verbally confirm your reasons for travel and your vaccination status during border inspection. 
  • Children under 18 years of age will not be required to show proof of vaccination when crossing the border accompanied by an adult who meets the vaccination requirements. 
  • As of Jan. 22, 2022, all travelers who intend to enter the United States, by land, ferry or plane, will have to present proof of vaccination. 

What vaccines will be accepted?

The United States will accept vaccines approved and accepted by the World Health Organization.

These are the seven vaccines approved by the WHO. 

  • Moderna ARNm-1273
  • Pfizer-BioN-Tech BNT162b2
  • Jansen (Johnson & Johnson) Ad26.COV2.S
  • Oxford-AstraZeneca AZD1222
  • Covishield
  • Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV
  • Sinovac CoronaVac

What documents will be accepted as proof of vaccination?

The CDC specifies that the following proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will be accepted:

  •  Verifiable records on paper or digital: Certificate with QR code or digital pass in a phone application 
  • Non-verifiable printed records: Printed vaccination record, vaccination card. 
  • Non-verifiable digital records: Digital photos of the vaccination card or vaccination certificate from a public agency or application without a QR code. 

The vouchers must include full name and date of birth that matches the passport of the person entering the country.

Name of the official agency that issued the proof of vaccination.

Manufacturer of the vaccine and vaccination dates. 

RELATED: New variant cause for concern, not panic, Biden tells US

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