CDC Lifts Covid-19 Test Requirement for International Travel to US

John Lambo - Jun 13 2022
Published in: Public Policy
Coronavirus vaccines and new treatments made it possible to ease the requirement

As of 12:01 AM ET on June 12, 2022, the CDC no longer requires air passengers departing from a foreign country to the United States to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board their flight.

The rule, put in place by the Trump administration in early 2021 and later tightened by the Biden administration, most recently required inbound travelers, including U.S. citizens, to show proof of a negative Covid test a day before boarding U.S.-bound flights. Travelers entering the U.S. at land border crossings were exempt.

The move is another sign of a new era of COVID-19 where some of the measures designed when the virus was seen as an overwhelming crisis are being wound down.  

Some experts had noted that the requirement did not seem to be serving much purpose, given that COVID-19 is already circulating widely within the United States.  

Until now, travelers hoping to catch a flight to the US had been required to show proof of a negative test one day before their flight.

A senior Biden administration official said the CDC made the determination based on science and data that this requirement is no longer necessary at this time. The rule was put into place in January 2021 by the Trump administration, when fewer than 10% of Americans were vaccinated, and new infections were spiking, according to The New York Times.

The official also pointed out this move is possible because of advancements in treatments and vaccines.

According to the World Health Organization, the number of new weekly COVID-19 cases has continued to decline since its peak in January 2022, as has the number of new weekly deaths. Still, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warns that there isn't enough testing globally, and vaccination rates are meager in low-income countries. 

 The CDC will reassess the decision in 90 days to determine whether the testing requirement should be reinstated. “If there is a need to reinstate a pre-departure testing requirement — including due to a new, concerning variant — CDC will not hesitate to act,” the official said.

Repealing the testing requirement is welcome news to the airline industry, which was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and had repeatedly pushed the Biden administration to drop the rule.

Airlines and others in the travel industry had repeatedly pushed the administration to drop the requirement, arguing it was hurting demand for international trips. The travel industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.

Other countries, including the U.K., had previously abandoned Covid testing entry rules.

“The Biden administration is to be commended for this action, which will welcome back visitors from around the world and accelerate the recovery of the U.S. travel industry,” Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a statement. “International inbound travel is vitally important to businesses and workers across the country who have struggled to regain losses from this valuable sector.”

The Travel Technology Association’s vice president of government relations, Mike Liptak, said in a statement that travel and tourism are critical to the economic recovery from the pandemic. Nick Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, the lobbying group for the largest U.S. carriers, said the industry looks “forward to continuing to work with the Administration to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of the traveling public and to ensure that air travel policies are guided by science.”

Click here for the full story from The Hill.