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United States to mandate isolation after return from international travel

January 21, 2021

New U.S. President Joe Biden has signed an executive order requiring international travelers to self-quarantine upon returning to the country.

The executive order, issued Thursday, reads as follows:

It is the policy of my Administration that, to the extent feasible, travelers seeking to enter the United States from a foreign country shall be: 

(i)   required to produce proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test prior to entry; and 

(ii)  required to comply with other applicable CDC guidelines concerning international travel, including recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the United States.

According to the executive order, the Department of Health and Human Services and the the Secretary of Homeland Security “shall promptly provide to the President … a plan for how the Secretary and other Federal Government actors could implement the policy.”

The current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say travelers should get tested between three and five days after travel, in addition to self-isolating for seven days after travel.

Prior to the executive order, states had individual and varying policies for returning travelers. Many, like Michigan and Wisconsin, had no requirements, while others mandated isolation and tests.

In addition to the quarantine requirement, the U.S. will enforce a previously announced policy requiring that all air passengers —  including U.S. citizens and permanent residents — get tested for the coronavirus within three days of their flight into the country.

“Science-based public health measures are critical to preventing the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by travelers within the United States and those who enter the country from abroad,” Thursday’s executive order reads.

Costa Rica relies heavily on U.S. tourism, and the CDC’s decisions to implement new testing and isolation requirements will likely have significant impacts on the sector.

Click here for a list of private testing sites in Costa Rica. 

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