‘When COVID goes up, tourist taxes go down’: How new travel rules could impact local tourism

ORLANDO, Fla. — New COVID-19 testing requirements for international travelers entering the United States go into effect Monday.

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Starting at 12:01 a.m., all international passengers traveling to the United States, regardless of vaccination status, must present a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than a day before departure.

READ: Crowds continue to gather in Florida as health officials keep watch for COVID-19 omicron variant

“My plan I’m announcing…pulls no punches in the fight against COVID-19,” President Joe Biden said Thursday as he announced the new rules.

The guidelines had previously allowed inbound travelers to test up to three days before entering the country.

The shift in policy underscores the potential threat posed by the newly-discovered omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Scientists are still working to determine how transmissible it is, how sick it makes people, and how well the current vaccines work against it.

READ: Scientists say sequencing is vital to staying ahead of Omicron variant

International travel resumed at Orlando International Airport less than a month ago.

While the new restrictions could mean fewer tourists visiting the area, Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond says the sacrifice may be necessary in the long run.

“When COVID goes up, tourist taxes go down, and when COVID goes down, tourist taxes go up.”

President Biden said COVID-19 cases will continue to rise in the coming weeks and over the winter.

READ: No significant changes in testing, vaccinations since omicron emergence

Any foreign national who travels to the United States must be fully vaccinated, but there remains no vaccination requirement for American citizens traveling by air globally or domestically.

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Karen Parks

Karen Parks, WFTV.com

Karen Parks is a reporter at WFTV.