US to require all inbound travelers to take COVID-19 test 1 day before flight

All travelers to the U.S. must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within one day of boarding their flights, regardless of nationality or vaccination status, the White House announced Thursday.

The tightening of testing for those entering the country will begin next week and is down from the current three days for those who have been vaccinated.

The new directive is part of President Joe Biden’s new winter plan for combating COVID-19 and the new omicron variant, which also includes a requirement for private insurers to cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests and paid time off for federal employees to get a booster dose.

"The actions I'm announcing are ones that all Americans can rally behind and should unite us in the fight against COVID-19 and they come from a position of strength," President Joe Biden said in remarks from the National Institutes of Health. "We are better positioned than we were a year ago to fight COVID-19."

In updating its travel options, the White House has shelved tougher options, like requiring post-arrival testing or requiring quarantines upon arrival in the U.S. It has not yet moved to require domestic U.S. travelers to be vaccinated or get tested, as officials believe such a requirement would be immediately mired in litigation.

"We base our decisions on the advice of the health and medical experts, what’s going to be most effective and what we can implement," press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier Thursday. "What’s most implementable, so we look at a range of factors as we make decisions about what steps we can put in place."

Biden is also extending his directive requiring masks on airplanes and other public transit, which had been set to expire in January, through at least the middle of March.

This story was reported from Cincinnati.