U.S. to Require Negative Coronavirus Tests from International Air Travelers

By Paul Riegler on 12 January 2021
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Passengers waiting to board a BA flight at Heathrow early in the pandemic

A new federal policy will require international air passengers heading to the United States to present proof of a negative coronavirus test prior to being allowed to board the aircraft.

The move expands a similar policy put into place in December for travelers from Britain heading to the United States.

“Testing does not eliminate all risk,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement outlining the new policy, which goes into effect on January 26, 2021. “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.”

All airlines will be required to deny boarding to any passengers who do not submit proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours of departure or documentation of recovery from the coronavirus.

The policy comes as the airline industry itself is seeking a national testing standard from the federal government, seeing it as a way to eliminate some travel restrictions and increase movement for individuals who have tested negative.

“Since the onset of this crisis, U.S. airlines have relied on science to help guide decisions as they continuously reevaluate and update their processes, procedures and protocols,” said Airlines for America, an industry group that represents major U.S. airlines, in a statement. “Recognizing that this regime will provide an additional layer of safety in the travel journey, we encourage the administration to move forward with recommendations to concurrently lift existing entry restrictions on travelers from Europe, the United Kingdom and Brazil.”

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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