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New US Covid testing rules for travellers to combat Omicron variant

The US will tighten its travel Covid testing rules from December 6 to combat the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Travellers arriving in America will be required to take a coronavirus test within 24 hours of departure. Accepted tests include antigen (rapid) tests and PCRs.

America’s new testing rules will apply to everyone regardless of vaccination status and nationality.

International travellers were previously allowed 72 hours to get tested for Covid before departure.

Last month the US government began requiring foreign travellers to be fully vaccinated.

Now UK travellers going to America will need to provide proof of a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours of travel, proof of vaccination, as well as an ESTA visa waiver.

Travellers to the US will be required to test within 24 hours of departure starting December 6

Children under two do not need to get tested and children under 18 are exempt from the vaccine requirement.

A statement on the White House website on December 2 said: “Early next week, the United States will tighten pre-departure testing protocols by requiring all inbound international travelers to test within one day of departure globally, regardless of nationality or vaccination status.

“This tighter testing timeline provides an added degree of public health protection as scientists continue to assess the Omicron variant.”

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On November 26, following the discovery of the Omnicron variant, the Biden administration enacted a travel ban for non-US citizens of eight countries: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Citizens from these countries – and non-US citizens who travelled to the countries in the last 14 days – cannot enter the United States.

President Biden also extended the mask mandate on public transport until March 18, 2022.

Masks are required on airplanes, rail travel, and public transportation in the US.

Full details about testing requirements can be found on the CDC website here.

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