Biden administration weighs stricter coronavirus testing for all travelers to the U.S.

Biden is expected to announce an enhanced COVID strategy on Thursday
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Southwest Airlines airplane
Southwest Airlines airplane
(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Biden administration is readying a stricter set of coronavirus testing requirements for all travelers entering the country, including returning Americans, in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

President Biden is attempting to push an enhanced winter COVID-19 strategy, which he will deliver Thursday. He is expected to announce that everyone re-entering the country must be tested one day before travel, regardless of their vaccination status or country of departure. Some officials also think travelers should be required to be retested within three to five days of arrival.

One controversial element of the proposal that is being debated is requiring all travelers to self-quarantine for seven days – even if they test negative. Those who fail to do so may end up being subject to fines and other penalties.

The administration is attempting to swiftly develop a response to the new virus variant, Omicron.

Like several other nations around the globe, the U.S. quickly shut down travel from several South Africa nations, where the virus was first found. Despite similar efforts abroad, the variant has been identified in at least 19 other countries, and scientists and medical professionals will soon have a better understanding of whether it can evade vaccines and therapeutics.

The Justice Department will also have to assess whether it is legal to ask people to self-quarantine on threat of a fine, and if so, for what amount the fine would be.