Omicron variant brings new restrictions for air travelers to the US

As the omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to spread across the world, the U.S. State Department implemented travel restrictions Monday for all air travelers coming to the country. 

The restrictions apply to anyone aged two and up, regardless of vaccination status or nationality. Now, all air travelers coming to the U.S. will have to show proof of a negative test within one day of the flight's departure. Anyone who recently recovered from COVID-19, however, will be allowed to show proof of their recent recovery instead. 

The newest restrictions are on top of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's previous requirements for full vaccination. Under those rules, implemented in November 2021, all air travelers must show proof of full vaccination, with very limited exceptions for those under 18, those medically unable to receive a vaccine and emergency travelers who may not have "timely access to a vaccine."

RELATED: Omicron variant may be less dangerous than delta, US health officials say

Last week, President Joe Biden announced that travel from many southern African countries would be restricted in order to prevent the spread of the omicron variant in the U.S. As of Nov. 29, travelers from Botswana, Eswatini (the country formerly known as Swaziland), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have been barred from entry into the U.S. These travel restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and few others.

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The omicron variant was originally reported in South Africa on Nov. 24. As of Dec. 5, the variant has been detected in at least 12 U.S. states, including multiple cases in California.

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