The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded its requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to include all air passengers entering the United States.
The CDC notes that testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19, continuing that this strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans.
As a result, 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 travelers 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.
CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD said that: “Testing does not eliminate all risk, 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.”
This order takes effect on Jan. 26, 2021.
Reacting to the CDC’s announcement, the U.S. Travel Association’s executive vice president of public affairs and policy, Tori Emerson Barnes said: “We appreciate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement of a COVID-19 testing requirement for inbound international travellers.”
Emerson Barnes continued: “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.”
And Emerson Barnes pointed out that: “With an international testing requirement in place, international visitors and returning residents would be tested at much higher rates than the general public and pose a much lower risk of transmitting the disease. So, it would make sense to lift international travel restrictions and quarantine requirements at the same time.”
Emerson Barnes concluded: “With a risk-based, layered approach to health and safety throughout every aspect of travel, it’s possible to both protect public health and allow travel to safely resume.”