Biden to lift COVID-19 test requirement for international flyers

The Biden administration is lifting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirement for international air travelers to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the U.S., the White House said Friday.

White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz said that the CDC “will evaluate its need based on the science and in context of circulating variants,” sharing a CNN story on the administration’s upcoming announcement.


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The COVID test requirement will end at midnight on Sunday, CNN reported.

According to officials, the CDC decided that air travelers coming to the U.S. no longer needed to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test after consulting the latest science and data. The CDC will reassess its decision in 90 days and may put the testing requirement back in place if there are concerns over rising coronavirus cases or another COVID-19 variant surge.

“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,” a CDC official told Reuters.

The travel rules did not apply to U.S. land border crossings.

President Joe Biden’s administration first announced the testing requirement for air passengers in January 2021 and put it into place following an executive order from the president. The travel industry has recently pushed for Biden to end the rule, warning that it has led to a decrease in travel and tourism that has harmed the economy.

Biden met with several travel industry representatives last month who shared these concerns.

“Despite the countless studies affirming that the hospital-grade air onboard aircraft is some of the cleanest available and the significant increase in vaccination rates, the administration continues to hold air travel to a standard different than land border crossings,” Airlines for America president Nicholas E. Calio said in a statement on May 31 after meeting with Biden.

The CDC’s decision in the industry’s favor comes just as the busy summer traveling season is about to start. Many countries in Europe had already dropped their COVID-19 travel requirements.

The news was welcomed by U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow, who said the administration ought to be “commended” for lifting the requirement.

“Prior to the pandemic, travel was one of our nation’s largest industry exports. The lifting of this requirement will enable the industry to lead the way toward a broader U.S. economic and jobs recovery,” Dow said.

The travel industry had been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and has not yet fully recovered. In mid-may, the travel association said domestic travel came within 7 percentage points of pre-pandemic levels, but international travel was still 14% below normal.

Airlines for America said ending the testing requirement “will help encourage and restore air travel to the United States, benefiting communities across the country that rely heavily on travel and tourism to support their local economies.”

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