On Thursday, January 21, President Joseph R. Biden signed “Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel.”
The executive order outlines measures to prevent the ongoing spread of COVID-19, particularly as it relates to travel within the United States and to the United States from abroad.
Domestic Travel | The Biden administration reinforces the consensus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Surgeon General, and the National Institutes of Health that wearing a mask, physical distancing, appropriate ventilation, and testing are all actions that can mitigate the travel-induced spread of COVID-19. The administration implements these public health measures for all public transportation modes and at all US ports.
- Wearing a mask will be required in compliance with CDC guidelines in or on airports, commercial aircraft, trains, public maritime vessels, including ferries, intercity buses, and all forms of public transportation as defined in section 5302 of title 49, United States Code. In cases where exceptions are to be made, alternative safeguards will be required.
- The secretaries of Transportation and Homeland Security and the Commandant of the Coast Guard shall make recommendations to the COVID-19 Response Coordinator regarding additional public health measures for domestic travel and what incentives may be used to encourage mask-wearing and public health measure adoption.
International Travel | Under the executive order, travelers entering the US from abroad must produce proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test and follow applicable CDC guidelines for international travel, including isolation and quarantine upon entry.
- Air Travel | The Secretary of HHS, Secretary of Transportation, and the Secretary of Homeland Security will review the CDC Order (January 12, 2021) requiring a negative COVID-19 test result for airline passengers within the next 14 days. Consideration will be given to the types and timing of testing, the proof required, and feasible alternative public health measures for passengers from countries where testing is not accessible, particularly as it applies to US citizens and lawful permanent residents’ ability to return to the US. Following their assessment, HHS and Homeland Security may further the regulations in place.
The Secretary of State, with the Secretary of HHS, Secretary of Transportation, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall consult with foreign governments, the World Health Organization, and other international travel agencies and organizations to establish guidelines for these public health measures.
- Land Travel | The Secretary of State, with the Secretary of HHS, Secretary of Transportation, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall begin diplomatic outreach to Canada and Mexico’s governments regarding public health measures for land ports of entry. Within 14 days of this order, the secretaries shall provide the President a plan to implement public health measures at the land ports of entry.
- Sea Travel | The Secretary of Homeland Security, with the Commandant of the Coast Guard and the Secretary of HHS, and the Director of CDC, within 14 days of this order shall provide the President with a plan to implement public health measures at seaports.
- International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis | The Secretary of State, Secretary of HHS, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, with any relevant international organizations, will assess the feasibility of linking COVID-19 vaccination to International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) and producing electronic versions of ICVPs.
The policies and items within the executive order are to be pursued consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
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