White House: domestic travel vaccine requirements are on the table

Jen Pasaki

White House: Due to omicron variables, domestic travel vaccine requirements are on the table.

The White House said Thursday that the requirement for a COVID-19 vaccine for domestic travel remains as the United States heads into the winter months and battles the new omicron alternative, saying the Biden administration will continue to "evaluate and evaluate daily."

President Biden on Thursday formally announced a series of steps to take on COVID-19, including a requirement for all international passengers traveling to the United States to be tested for COVID within 24 hours of departure. 

"I would say there is nothing off the table, therefore, including domestic travel," Psaki said, noting that there are "some strong protections already in place, including requirements to wear masks."

The White House will extend the mask's mandate to March 18, adding a doubling of fines if individuals do not comply with the requirements. The current mask mandate was due to expire on January 18 after being extended last August.

"Again, nothing is on the table," Psaki added.

Jeffrey Zentes, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, was asked this week during an interview on MSNBC about a potential vaccine demand for domestic flights — something he also left as an option.

"We have these stringent requirements in terms of international travel, we have workplace requirements, and we will continue to consider all options, and everything is on the table," Zenz said.

Biden restricted travel from South Africa and seven other countries over fears of a "severely mutated" omicron of COVID-19 -- a move he said Monday would give the United States "time."

As for the travel bans from other countries that have reported cases of the omicron variant, the White House said it was continuing to "assess daily" and that the president would 

She added that the administration was assessing "whether additional restrictions are needed."

But this week, a California resident vaccinated against COVID-19 was confirmed to be the first case of the omicron variant in the USA.

As for the threat posed by the omicron, Psaki said Thursday that there is "a lot we don't know."

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