The US government is continuing to urge Americans not to travel abroad after new restrictions went into effect this Tuesday that require all passengers travelling by air to present a negative Covid test taken within three days of the departure or proof of recovery from the virus within the past 90 days.
Healthcare and government officials alike are worried that these new requirements will motivate travelers to go back out into the world since the approval process has never been easier. The reality is, however, there has never been a worse time for Americans to leave their homes, as over 421,000 citizens have now died from the virus. Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Ian Brownlee spoke to reporters and citizens this Tuesday, urging them to not travel.
“If you cannot easily access a Covid-19 test, or if you test positive, you will end up overseas for much longer than you planned. If that happens, you will be responsible for covering your own lodging and medical costs during that time.”
“Seriously reconsider going overseas right now,” Brownlee added, claiming that “US citizens who choose to go abroad, whether it’s for a holiday or a genuine emergency, need to be prepared to be potentially seriously disrupted in their trips.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions‘ director for the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Marty Cetron, also spoke to the press with Brownlee, adding that the “bottom-line message is this is really not a time for people to be engaging in discretionary travel, and that all travel should be postponed until we get a better handle on getting this virus under control, and accelerating our vaccination strategies.”
Despite all the warnings and increases in cases and deaths, the State Department is not considering issuing a global Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory and instead will issue advisories on a country by country basis. The department issued a worldwide warning against international travel back in March, but lifted it in August.
Brownlee claimed that the State Department is “committed to helping US citizens overseas who find themselves in dire situations, but that assistance is likely to be limited. Our goal is to help people avoid those dire straits in the first place. US embassies will be able to provide information about where to get medical care and Covid tests, but will not provide those tests,” Brownlee explained.
Cetron went on to discuss how “the waiver that was initially contemplated to extend the deadline of implementation of these new requirements by a couple of weeks has been removed from this order, although we’ve specifically added a particular humanitarian emergency exemption to take into account.”
“Additionally, when we looked at the surges of this virus that have happened, in particular in the months before Thanksgiving and through the holiday season — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s — we were just seeing surge upon surge in the virus at a time when more of the variants were proving themselves increasingly contagious. And it was a combination of all these factors which led to the urgency of removing the two-week additional extension for implementation, and to move this into effect immediately at 12:01, midnight.”
The Biden Administration and current Covid-19 taskforce are holding daily meetings and operation calls with airlines to receive feedback on the early rollout and implementation of these new requirements, and conversations will continue to be ongoing as vaccines continue to be distributed and this pandemic progresses.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.