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Biden seeks to require air passengers to quarantine upon US arrival

New president's executive order does not explain how rule would be enforced.

A 24-hour rapid coronavirus testing site greets travelers at Los Angeles International Airport.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Thursday that would require international air travelers to quarantine upon U.S. arrival, and directed U.S. agencies to implement a federal mask mandate in interstate transportation.

Biden's order says "to the extent feasible" air travelers must comply with applicable U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines concerning international travel "including recommended periods of self-quarantine." It does not explain how it will be enforced.

The order also directs U.S. agencies to hold talks with Canada and Mexico "regarding public health protocols for land ports of entry" including implementing CDC guidelines. Nearly all non-essential travel at U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico is suspended through Feb. 21.

The CDC recommends a seven-day quarantine for people arriving in the Unites States from nearly all countries.

The order calls on agencies to "immediately take action" to require masks on or in airports, commercial aircraft, trains, public maritime vessels, including ferries, intercity bus services and all public transportation, but grants them the ability to issue exemptions.

Biden is directing agencies to reconsider international contact tracing requirements for U.S.-bound passengers, which was abandoned by the Trump White House, as well as the possibility of follow-up COVID-19 testing for travelers after they arrive in the United States.

The Biden administration is implementing new coronavirus testing requirements for nearly all international air passengers beginning on Tuesday, following a CDC order last week. Under the new rules, all U.S.-bound passengers age 2 and over must get negative COVID-19 test results within three calendar days of travel.

The Biden administration announced it would reimpose entry bans on most non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland and most of continental Europe after President Donald Trump issued an order on Monday lifting them effective the same day the new testing rules take effect.

Biden also wants new public health measures at U.S. sea ports. In October, the CDC let a no-sail order expire for cruise ships. A U.S. House committee said the White House had blocked the CDC from extending the pandemic-related no-sail order through mid-February.

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