- Biden is set to extend the mask mandate that requires face coverings on planes, trains, and buses.
- The president is expected to announce the new measure in a Thursday appearance, according to Reuters.
- The new precautions come as the US prepares to fight the new Omicron variant.
President Joe Biden is expected to extend a federal mask mandate that requires travelers in the US to wear a face covering on planes, trains, and buses, as well as in airports and other transit stations, according to Reuters.
The extension of the COVID-19 protective measure, which was set to expire on January 18, is part of the president’s larger strategy to tackle a worrisome winter coronavirus battle as the Omicron variant raises alarm bells.
The current Centers for Disease Control order was put in place shortly after Biden was inaugurated in January. It also applies to ships, subways, taxis, and ride-shares, as well as subway stations and seaports.
According to The New York Times, Biden will announce the prolonged mandate during a Thursday visit to the National Institutes of Health.
The outlet reported that his broader plan also includes a new requirement that international travelers arriving in the United States be tested for COVID-19 one day before their departure.
The heightened precautions come as California reported the first confirmed case of the new Omicron variant on Wednesday. The traveler arrived in San Francisco from South Africa on November 22.
Earlier this week, the president imposed travel restrictions on people coming into the country from eight different African nations, including South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first sequenced.
South Africa had expressed criticism of the US’s decision to ban travel, saying it should have been “applauded and not punished” for being the first to detect the new variant. Biden said earlier this week that the move was meant to buy time as his advisers prepared to fight the new variant in the US.