New Federal Restrictions for International Travel

CATEGORY: Special Bulletins
CLIENT TYPE: Nonprofit, Private Education, Public Education, Public Employers, Public Safety
PUBLICATION: LCW Special Bulletin
DATE: Dec 03, 2021

On December 2, 2021, President Biden announced new international travel restrictions following the emergence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. The announcement is part of the Administration’s plan, “New Actions to Protect Americans Against the Delta and Omicron Variants as We Battle COVID-⁠19 this Winter.”[1] The plan addresses a number of domestic and foreign efforts to combat the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. This bulletin addresses the travel restrictions and briefly identifies several other areas that are relevant to employers.

President Biden’s Travel Restrictions

The new travel restrictions become effective on December 6, 2021. They apply to all travelers 2 years old and older, and they require international travelers to test for COVID-19 within one (1) day of their departure from a foreign country.[2] Additionally, through March 18, all travelers must wear face coverings during travel and while in transportation hubs.[3] Employers whose employees plan to travel internationally for the holidays should advise them to schedule a COVID-19 test within one (1) day of their return trip’s departure, and to observe the face covering requirements. Failure to test for COVID-19 within a day of departure could delay employees’ return.

CDC Travel Recommendations

Notably, the new restrictions do not require testing or quarantine after returning from international travel. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends[4] that unvaccinated individuals self-quarantine for seven (7) days after returning from international travel.  It also recommends that all international travelers test for COVID-19 within 3-5 days of returning, regardless of vaccination status. The CDC further recommends that unvaccinated individuals test for COVID-19 1-3 days before departure. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) also recommends that travelers follow CDC guidelines.[5] While CDC and CDPH recommendations are not mandatory, they are designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and should be heeded whenever possible.

Information Sources to Monitor

President Biden’s announcement outlines a number of foreign and domestic goals meant to prevent transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. It encourages, but does not require, employers to provide paid time off so that employees may receive booster shots. It also announces plans to ensure schools and businesses remain open this winter, with more information to follow. Employers should monitor the White House[6] for future announcements with additional details. California employers should also monitor state and local health departments for new guidance or travel restrictions at the state or local levels.

COVID-19 and the spread of the Omicron variant pose universal challenges. LCW attorneys are monitoring new developments at the local, state, and federal levels. They are experienced in COVID-19 matters and stand ready to help clients manage changing legal obligations and guidance.

[1] The White House, President Biden Announces New Actions to Protect Americans Against the Delta and Omicron Variants as We Battle COVID-⁠19 this Winter (Published on December 2, 2021) <https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/12/02/fact-sheet-president-biden-announces-new-actions-to-protect-americans-against-the-delta-and-omicron-variants-as-we-battle-covid-19-this-winter/> (as of December 2, 2021).

[2] The full text of the CDC’s Notice and Amended Order is available here: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/pdf/Amended-Global-Testing-Order_12-02-2021-p.pdf.

[3] The Transportation Security Administration will enforce the face covering requirement. It may impose fines from $500 up to $3,000.

[4] CDC, International Travel: Information for U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents, and Immigrants (Updated November 29, 2021) <https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel-during-covid19.html> (as of December 2, 2021).

[5] CDPH travel recommendations are available here: https://covid19.ca.gov/travel/; and here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/CDPH%20Document%20Library/COVID-19/CA-is-Open-Travel-Guidelines.pdf.

[6] The White House webpage lists all recent announcements here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/.

This Special Bulletin is published for the benefit of the clients of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore. The information in this Special Bulletin should not be acted upon without professional advice. 

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