US will end COVID-19 testing requirement for air travellers

 Monday, June 13, 2022 


The Biden administration is expected to announce Friday that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will lift its requirement for travellers to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the US, according to a senior administration official and a US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention official.

The move, will go into effect for US-bound air travellers at midnight on Sunday, the officials said.

The CDC is lifting the restriction that the travel industry had lobbied against for months after determining it was no longer necessary based on the science and data, the senior administration official said.

The CDC has the ability to reassess the order at any time and potentially reinstate it, especially if a new variant develops and poses concern. The measure has been in place since January 2021.

That official said the Biden administration plans to work with airlines to ensure a smooth transition with the change, but it will likely be a welcome move for most in the industry.

Terry Dale, President & CEO of the United States Tour Operators Association, released the following statement that USTOA applauds the Administration’s announcement lifting its requirement for pre-departure COVID-19 testing.

The pre-departure testing requirement for international air travellers has depressed a significant amount of travel to the U.S. and hasn’t provided any meaningful benefit to public health for some time.

Removing the pre-departure testing requirement will incentivize vaccination, increase demand for international travel to and from the U.S., and better align passenger aviation entry requirements with those at U.S. land border points of entry and other major travel-trade partners abroad.

USTOA remains committed to working with the administration to ensure a safe, expeditious reopening of international travel.

Dale added that the long-awaited announcement is particularly timely as USTOA plans to bring a delegation of members to Washington, D.C., for its Annual Congressional Caucus on June 14 and 15.

In a statement, the CDC said, that the COVID-19 pandemic has now shifted to a new phase, due to the widespread uptake of highly effective COVID-19 vaccines, the availability of effective therapeutics, and the accrual of high rates of vaccine- and infection-induced immunity at the population level in the United States.

Each of these measures has contributed to lower risk of severe disease and death across the United States.

Travel industry officials have been increasingly critical of the requirement in recent weeks and directly urged the Biden administration to end the measure, arguing it was having a chilling effect on an already fragile economy, according to Airlines for America chief Nick Calio, whose group met recently with White House officials.

The travel industry, and some scientific experts, said the policy had been out of date for months.

Lawmakers, including Democrats, had also advocated for lifting the requirement in recent weeks.

White House officials met last month with travel industry officials, who pressed the Biden administration to end its requirements that vaccinated international travellers take a coronavirus test before flying to the United States.

Airlines for America said its members including American Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines had believed lifting the requirements would lead more foreigners to visit the US.

The trade association told that in mid-May, domestic travel came within 7 percentage points of pre-pandemic levels, but international travel lagged at 14% below normal.

US Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow praised the decision.

Dow said in a statement that prior to the pandemic, travel was one of their nation’s largest industry exports. The lifting of this requirement will enable the industry to lead the way toward a broader US economic and jobs recovery.

The industry has criticized the policy as out of date for months, and some medical experts have also questioned its utility.

Testing international arrivals doesn’t make much sense to Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

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