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Omicron variant: The Biden administration plans to tighten restrictions for travelers to the U.S.

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Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani details the travel regulations Biden officials are planning to implement in the wake of the Omicron variant's discovery, in addition to pushing for workplace vaccine mandates.

Video transcript

JARED BLIKRE: Welcome back. The White House wasting no time to respond to the new Omicron threat-- threat, excuse me. They're planning to tighten travel rules now. And we want to bring in Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Kehlani with all the latest details.

And, Anj, just seems like, I would say, government officials are not wasting any time. Here in New York City, yesterday we got, not a new mask mandate, but new mask guidelines from Mayor de Blasio. But this is a separate story. And I want you to tell us what the White House has envisioned for these travel plans?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That's right, Jared. And you're going to hear more of this really following what we heard out of New York, because that is exactly what the CDC and the White House and government officials are weighing-- is this new omicron threat as we wait to learn more.

So the White House right now, according to reports, prepared to put in a mandatory testing before for all inbound travelers to the US. This is something that other countries, especially in Europe have already implemented. And so that would be the first time that the US really implements this and now post-vaccination.

They are also considering, but not clear on where that stands right now, a requirement for testing after arrival and possible quarantining for up to seven days. There are other countries, especially Asian countries that do still have quarantines in effect for arriving travelers. So again, this is not something novel or new, but something that is being implemented around the country-- around the world.

Meanwhile, we're looking at, of course, those vaccines and how they're holding up against this new variant. On early reports we heard from South Africa did suggest that the disease might be milder from this. But we're, again, we do not have that confirmed.

We also just got another hint out of Israel, which we know predominantly has been using the Pfizer vaccine. And reports there that the vaccine is holding up. Again, not confirmed. We're still waiting for the scientists and the labs here in the US to run those tests within the next couple of weeks and give us that report.

Meanwhile, of course, we are keeping an eye on the treatments front. So that race is still on with Merck getting their first FDA advisory committee meeting yesterday and narrowly getting support for emergency use authorization in a 13 to 10 vote, some of those nos, citing concerns over pregnancy, as well as safety issues, as well as the decreased drop that we saw in the reports from the FDA when they did their analysis of that pill.

So while it is moving ahead, we're waiting to hear on the final words from the FDA, as well as what will happen moving forward. We also have to remember that Pfizer is also not in on this race and does have a treatment in queue. Back to you.

- You kind of wonder too. I mean, the idea of waiting till Thursday to kind of change the amount of days you have to test negative before flying, whether some of these things could have been thought of or put in practice maybe sooner so you could act quicker, in reacting to what I think a lot of people saw it coming, which was a new variant here.

But Anjalee, when we look at maybe some of the other things the Biden administration is trying to do. Of course, we heard from him earlier this week talking about how vaccines and really making sure everyone gets vaccinated is the best course of defense. But judges now-- a judge temporarily blocking the mandate that we saw the Biden administration put in place for health care workers. What do we know about how that is maybe pushing back on the goal to get everybody vaxxed up?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That is-- you're right. That is just another one of those push backs against the White House. May need, this time for all health workers-- that was sort of done through the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. The injunction that just came down from a Louisiana court judge did say that it really is not up to an agency, rather the government and Congress possibly as an avenue for requiring this mandate for health care workers. And also in that, citing freedoms.

Of course, we know that has been the crux of some of these issues, saying, "If human nature and history teach anything, it is that civil liberties face grave risk when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency." Unquote. And that's from Judge Terry Doughty. And that is what we're looking at right now-- is just the second one that we've seen but now applies nationwide. There was an earlier ruling similarly on Monday that applied to only a handful of states.

So we will wait to see where this will move forward in the course and have to be argued. And so we'll wait for those results. But as of right now, puts a halt on the deadline, which the government had set, which the White House had set, which was fully vaccinated by early January. So we'll wait to get those details. Back to you.

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