Passengers from any international destination will require a negative COVID-19 test before entering the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Tuesday that the new rule, which goes into effect January 26, is designed to prevent any further spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which is killing Americans at record numbers.
“Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19,” the CDC said in a statement. “This strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans.”
The new rule requires passengers to get a viral test within three days before their flight to the United States and provide written or electronic documentation of their test results to the airline.
If the passenger does not provide documentation of their test or proof of having recovered from COVID-19, airlines will deny boarding.
“Testing does not eliminate all risk,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said. “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 rule had already been instituted for passengers traveling from the United Kingdom in response to a new variant of coronavirus that had surfaced there. It has since been discovered in dozens of countries, including the U.S.
“Variants continue to emerge in countries around the world, and there is evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants,” the CDC said. “With the U.S. already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the American public.”
In addition to the negative test before boarding, the CDC recommends a second test three to five days after arrival as well as isolating for a week to help prevent the spread.
Coronavirus deaths surpassed 375,000 in the U.S. Tuesday and are averaging more than 3,000 per day since the start of the new year.
The airline industry has supported the new rules. Airlines for America, a trade association, called for the implementation last week in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence.
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