Why I oppose a quarantine for international travelers

Jan 25, 2021

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This viewpoint from The Points Guy’s Brian Kelly was originally published in his weekly newsletter. Sign up to receive curated travel intel from Brian Kelly.

We watched a new president take the oath of office last week. But it was the outgoing Trump administration that enacted a new rule that goes into effect on Jan. 26: All travelers arriving in the U.S. will need a negative COVID-19 test before entering — or in the case of Americans, re-entering — the country.

I’ve been a proponent of testing and contact tracing throughout the pandemic as a means to keep travel going, so this new rule is promising.

Brian Kelly (Photo by The Points Guy)

In the coming days, we should learn more about other measures the Biden administration will take to curb the spread of coronavirus. It’s already mandated mask usage in federal buildings, on airplanes, trains and aboard transit systems traveling between states.

Read more about the state of travel under the Biden administration:

Will there be a mandatory quarantine?

While I applaud the new testing measures for entry to the U.S., I hope the new administration does not add a mandatory 14-day quarantine on top of that.

Many destinations — from Hawaii to Rwanda — have implemented successful testing upon arrival and/or departure policies. Case in point: Alberta, Canada’s international border testing pilot program, which allows a reduced quarantine period for travelers entering with a negative COVID-19 test, has helped keep the country safe from the further spread of the disease. Passengers entering select airport and border crossings in Alberta that don’t have a negative COVID-19 test need to quarantine for 14 days.

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COVID-19 is going to be with us for a while. While there are several viable vaccines, the rollout is going slower than expected and it’s more important than ever that we learn to live safely with the threat of coronavirus. That means adopting all common-sense safety protocols and not hindering the economy or freedom of movement with long-duration quarantines when there are better alternatives.

A 14-day quarantine for all travelers entering the U.S. would crush tourism here and in places like Mexico and the Caribbean that rely on American visitors to contribute to their economic bottom line.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, the U.S. should embrace international travel. We can build partnerships with other countries for robust departure and re-entry testing programs that will reduce the need for long-duration quarantines. This is a win-win for both countries involved as well as for their local and macro economies.

We need to come together and do our part to keep ourselves and each other safe from COVID-19 while continuing to live our lives and grow the economy.

Featured image by Jeff Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images

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