Travelers Flying (Or Returning) To The U.S. Might Face Self-Quarantine Requirement, Masks On Planes Now Mandatory


The new U.S. administration has started off their term by putting new rules in place that concern travel to and within the United States including touting a self quarantine period for all international arrivals and a new federal requirement to wear masks on planes.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Or course the airlines already require passengers to wear masks for months now and asking people to self-quarantine isn’t really enforceable in any way so in practice not much will change.

The CDC had already released guidelines that from January 26th 2021 passengers need to produce a negative Covid-19 test before being allowed to board a flight to the U.S. which is a novum since the start of the pandemic.

From all the things that were announced by the new administration only the mask requirement and the the test requirement effective January 26th is official, the quarantine hasn’t been defined in any way and it’s pretty much impossible to enforce either way.

Some states such as Hawaii do have a quarantine regime including tracking for visitors in place but keep in mind Hawaii consists of a few big islands that are easier to control compared to the continental U.S. states.

USA Today (access here) reported about the new regulations put in place per Executive Action.

President Joe Biden has promised a mask mandate on flights, trains and buses for months, and on Thursday, he made it a reality.

“Today, we’ll be signing an additional executive action to extend masking requirements on interstate travel, like on trains, planes and buses,” he said during a televised address Thursday outlining his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden, who said on his first day in office that “changing the course of the COVID crisis” is a top priority, signed an order mandating masks on federal property Wednesday.

The new travel-specific order will require people to wear masks in airports, on certain modes of public transportation, including many trains, airplanes and intercity buses, according to White House officials.

“And in light of the new COVID variants that we’re learning about, we are instituting now a new measure for individuals flying into the United States from other countries,” Biden said. “In addition to wearing masks, everyone flying to the United States from another country will need to test before they depart and quarantine when they arrive in America.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously announced the international testing requirement to begin Jan. 26, but a quarantine element would be new. Biden did not specify how long new arrivals would have to quarantine, though the CDC has recently shortened its recommended period from 14 to 10 days.

In the end politics will be politics and that goes for any place in the world. Whenever there is a newly elected government they try to put policies into place and then those will be more or less successful down the line. Only time can tell.

What hasn’t been talked about so far is what will happen with the travel ban from Schengen countries and Brazil which the Trump administration let run out per Jan 26th once the testing requirement kicks in. The immediate reaction of President Biden’s spokesperson was that this order would be rescinded but that hasn’t happened yet.

Here are come current information references that can help staying up to date when planning your trips:

CDC Guidelines for international and domestic travel

AARP Guide – State by State Rules for domestic travel

Whatever might be decided in the future in terms of Covid restrictions when arriving back in the U.S. I’m sure the primary focus of federal and local governments will be to improve production and distribution of the vaccine supplied by the approved manufacturers. So far this has proven to be a challenge in many countries, not only the U.S. and while it’s pretty en vogue to blame the U.S. for bad handling of Covid-19 very few countries around the world have done a good job with it, mostly small nations with lots of water around it.

The mask requirement on aircraft gives better enforcement power to the airlines. While airlines have already made face coverings mandatory all they were able to do until now was to sanction passengers who don’t comply with the rule. Now it’s against the law to not wear a mask and one can face prosecution for non-compliance. Bottom line: Either fly and wear a mask or stay on the ground. Same like airport security which isn’t by choice either.


The U.S. government has put new federal rules into place that will require incoming travelers from international destinations to produce negative Covid tests, air travelers to wear masks and in the near future likely some sort of self- isolation/quarantine regulation.

Hopefully a few months down the line we will be in a better position and have the Covid-19 with all it’s new variations at least somewhat under control. It’s probably pretty safe to say that the virus itself isn’t going anywhere and here to stay.

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