The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new guidelines about how long self-quarantines should last, lowering the recommendation from 10 days to five.
The altered guidelines apply only to two groups: those who have asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 and those who have been exposed to the virus but have not tested positive.
According to the CDC, such individuals should also wear masks around others for five days after quarantine.
Shortened quarantines are likely to help the travel industry, allowing airline employees to return to work more quickly after exposure to COVID-19. For two years, both flight attendants and pilots have followed the CDC’s 10-day guideline, reducing their ability to work.
With fewer available pilots and flight attendants, various U.S. airlines have repeatedly had to cancel flights. Frequent cancellations have made prospective travelers wary of booking flights, further impacting the airline industry.
Delta Air Lines recently approached the CDC to request shortened quarantine guidelines, but it’s unclear whether that has any relation to the updated recommendation.
Current data on the omicron variant suggests that it’s most contagious before symptoms show themselves. That means lengthy quarantines might be ineffective, isolating individuals during the least infectious stages of the illness.
U.S. airlines have canceled thousands of flights throughout the winter holidays because of high COVID-19 rates among employees. Those airlines include Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, and United Airlines.
Additionally, inclement weather was responsible for some flight cancellations, exacerbating staffing problems and leaving many travelers stranded in airports.