The US government will begin requiring all inbound international air travellers to provide a negative coronavirus test result that is less than 72h old before entering the country.
The US government will begin to require all inbound international air travellers to provide a negative coronavirus test result that is less than 72h old before entering the country.
The national public health institute US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says on 12 January that airlines will be responsible for ensuring that each passenger has either paper or electronic proof of the negative result prior to boarding an aircraft bound for the US.
“Before departure to the United States, a required test, combined with the CDC recommendations to get tested again three to five days after arrival and stay home for seven days post-travel, will help slow the spread of Covid-19 within US communities from travel-related infections,” the CDC says. “Pre-departure testing with results known and acted upon before travel begins will help identify infected travellers before they board airplanes.”
If a passenger can not show documentation of a negative result or recovery from the virus, or refuses to take a test prior to their trip, the airline will have to leave that passenger behind, CDC says.
US airlines trade group Airlines for America (A4A), which represents most of the major carriers in the US, did not respond to a request for comment on the new policy.
“Testing does not eliminate all risk,” says the agency’s director, Robert Redfield. “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 US joins Canada and numerous other countries introducing the blanket pre-departure test requirement, as new mutations of the coronavirus are tearing around the globe.
The order, scheduled to go into effect on 26 January, comes two weeks after the US government on 28 December imposed mandatory testing for all passengers returning to the country from the United Kingdom, where a particularly virulent strain of the virus had been spreading. In the meantime that mutation has also been detected in various locations in North America.
Major carriers have launched pilot coronavirus testing programmes ahead of specific overseas departures, but this is the first time since the beginning of the global pandemic last March that the US is mandating a testing regime for all arriving passengers.
According to Johns Hopkins University, about 22.8 million people in the US have been infected with the rapidly-spreading virus so far, and almost 380,000 have died of it.