Changes to international travel because of omicron

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Posted at 9:51 AM, Dec 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-03 11:24:51-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As a new variant of COVID-19 spreads globally, a travel advisor in Kansas City, Missouri, said so far he hasn’t told any clients to cancel planned international vacations so long as they’re vaccinated against COVID-19.

Mark Ebbitts, president of Shelton Travel Service, said he’s in touch with clients about the Biden Administration’s new restrictions on international travel due to the spread of the omicron variant. Biden’s plan now requires international travelers to get a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of returning to the United States, instead of the previous rule of 72 hours.

“This tighter testing timetable provides an added degree of protection as scientists continue to research the omicron variant,” Biden said.

Ebbitts explained most foreign resorts have COVID-19 testing on-site. He advises travelers not to wait to get that required test at the airport a few hours before their flight back to the United States.

“You gotta think about these airplanes that hold 200-250 people all coming back to the USA all needing a test that day. Some place like in Cancun, that can really stretch that testing line around a lot,” Ebbitts said.

Throughout the pandemic, Ebbitts has suggested clients purchase travel insurance. He said about 90% of people now do so, when only about 50% opted for coverage before the pandemic.

“Whether you get Covid, whether you just fall down, slip on the ice and break a leg, you want to have that ability to get your money back to reuse at a future time,” Ebbitts said.

He cautioned most insurance policies will not repay your expenses for “change of mind” reasons, meaning if you become more fearful of Covid and change your mind about traveling, you are not eligible for a refund.

Some countries require proof of medical insurance, Ebbitts said. Should you contract COVID-19 in that foreign country, they want to know you have insurance to cover medical expenses.

Many of Ebbitts clients have been going on cruises, which have robust testing policies before and during the cruise.

All airports and bus and train stations will continue to impose mask mandates through March under the president’s new plan.