Amidst rising COVID-19 cases across the nation, the US Government is deciding to change its stance on testing requirements for travelers looking to enter the country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Tuesday that all international travelers arriving by air in the United States, even U.S. citizens returning home, will need to present proof of negative COVID-19 test results.
The order is set to come into effect on January 26th.
The decision is made in an attempt to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19, as well as variants of the newly emerging SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Regarding the new protocols, the CDC announcement states:
“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.”
The testing requirements are expected to be put in place for an indefinite period of time, until a higher percentage of the American public becomes vaccinated.
At this point in time, CDC data shows over nine million Americans have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Although the testing requirements will not come into effect until later this month, we have received reports from travelers flying with US airlines having already received emails notifying them of the requirements and linking them to CDC’s website.
All incoming air passengers to the U.S. will be required to get a viral test within three days prior to their flight departure to the states.
Written documentation of a laboratory test result (paper or written copy) must be provided to the airlines the traveler is flying with prior to departure.
Airlines are responsible for verifying and confirming documentation for negative test results before boarding.
Failure to provide adequate documentation or refusal to take a test will resort in denied boarding to the passenger.
For those who test positive, they would be required to quarantine and recover to travel on a later date, and provide documentation of their recovery to the airline prior to departure.
While the new testing protocol is not seen as a method to completely eliminate transmission from travel, it is seen as an effective protocol to reduce risk.
In this aspect, CDC Director Robert R. Redfield states:
“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.”
The CDC further advises travelers to get tested again three-to-five days after travel and stay home for a week post-travel as a precaution.
International Travel Seeing Surge
The new testing requirements come at a time when international arrivals to the US are on the uptick.
In an interview with USA Today, CDC’s Director of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Martin Cetron, reported that there were 2.1 million international arrivals between December 1st through December 28th.
This accounts to roughly 76,000 passengers a day and four times the number of passengers in June.
The winter weather commanding vacationers to head south to the Caribbean and Central and South Americas is a key factor in the surge of international travel.
Testing Requirements Were on Horizon
While the US is now making testing mandatory upon all air travelers arriving into the country, they had already made this requirement for all incoming UK travelers late last month.
America’s neighbour to the north, Canada, put into effect requirements for negative test results for all travelers entering the country earlier this month.
Testing Requirements Could Open Borders
The new testing requirements being put in place may potentially lead to the opening of US borders to the EU, UK and Brazil.
US airlines have been pleading for a global testing program to provide a safe alternative in which borders may remain safe and controlled while being open.
At this time, there is no indication from the CDC as to whether the new testing requirements will lead to easing of entry restrictions for foreign nationals.
Q&A on US Testing
Since publishing this article we have created a guide from many of your questions regarding details on the new testing requirement for the USA.
Please visit ” New U.S. Testing Requirements Guide: Everything Travelers Need To Know”
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories