New federal quarantine regulations scrapped

Plans for sweeping new federal quarantine regulations established four years ago by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considered critical to protecting Americans from dangerous diseases spread by travelers have been quietly thrown out by the Obama administration.

Proposed in 2005 during the avian flu scare, the regulations would have provided the federal government with additional powers for detaining sick airline passengers and those exposed to certain diseases.

The proposed regulations would also have expanded requirements for reporting ill passengers to the CDC by airlines and would have mandated the collection and maintaining of contact information for fliers in the event that they need to be traced as part of an outbreak investigation.

Not everyone is unhappy with the scrapping of the regulations, however, including airline and civil liberties groups. The Air Transport Association had voiced fears that the regulations would not be affordable.

The American Civil Liberties Union objected as well, saying that the privacy rights of passengers could potentially be violated. The ACLU also objected to the "provisional quarantine" rule that would allow the CDC to involuntarily detain people for three business days if they were believed to have certain diseases, including pandemic flu, infectious tuberculosis, plague, cholera, SARS, smallpox, yellow fever, diphtheria or viral hemorrhagic fevers.