The Biden administration is considering far more restrictive requirements on travelers to the U.S. in the wake of the threat of a resurgence from the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
President Joe Biden previously announced a travel ban on eight countries from South Africa to stop the spread of the variant. Omicron has since been detected in more than a dozen countries.
The president had promised that he would fight the new variant without lockdowns or shutdowns, but instead utilize increased vaccination. He also said he would reveal his full plan on Thursday.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday what that plan might include, based on three federal health officials.
The plan may call for all visitors to be tested one day before boarding their flight, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, and no matter what the country of origination is. Officials are considering calling on all visitors to be retested three days after arriving in the U.S.
Even stricter is the possibility that travelers might be called to quarantine themselves for seven days, even if they tested negatively.
If travelers violate the restrictions they may be punished with fines and penalties.
A White House official told NBC News that no final decisions had been made about the new restrictions
“Policy discussions are ongoing across the government,” said the official.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that the current vaccines should provide some protection from omicron but that it was far too early to know how dangerous the new variant really is.
“Right now it does not look like there’s a big signal of a high degree of severity, but it’s too early to tell,” said Fauci on CNN.
“This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” said Biden on Monday. “We’ll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion.”
Here’s more on Biden’s response to the omicron variant: