The United States, one of the biggest travel markets in the world is now requiring all air passengers to have pre-arrival negative COVID-19 tests.
The announcement was made on January 12 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and will take effect on January 26.
The CDC said that testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19. This strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans.
Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, and there is evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants. With the U.S. already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the American public.
Before departure to the United States, a required test, combined with the CDC recommendations to get tested again 3-5 days after arrival and stay home for 7 days post-travel, will help slow the spread of COVID-19 within US communities from travel-related infections.
Pre-departure testing with results known and acted upon before travel begins will help identify infected travellers before they board airplanes.
Air passengers are required to get a viral test (a test for current infection) within the 3 days before their flight to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19.
Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board. If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger.
“Testing does not eliminate all risk,” says CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, “but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations.”
Tori Emerson, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy for the U.S. Travel Association (U.S.T.A.) said “We appreciate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement of a COVID-19 testing requirement for inbound international travellers.”
“A testing requirement provides yet another layer of safety for international travel, and should be accompanied by other risk-based policies – including lifting international inbound travel restrictions and dropping any post-arrival quarantine requirements,” Emerson continued.
COVID-19 cases in the U.S. exceeds 23 million which accounts for a quarter of the total infections worldwide.