The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has ordered that all passengers flying to the United States from abroad will be required to show evidence of negative Covid-19 tests before boarding their flight, which begins on January 26. they continue to rise and new, more contagious strains of the virus are emerging around the world.
Who is affected?
The order applies to anyone traveling to the United States on international flights, including U.S. citizens. You will need to show negative test results, even if you are flying a private jet or charter flight. There are exceptions for children under the age of 2, airline crews and federal law enforcement and military agents traveling on duty.
Which countries are covered?
All of them. Passengers must show evidence of a negative test when traveling to the United States from any country, including Mexico and the Caribbean. Airlines may seek temporary waivers for certain countries where testing supplies are insufficient, but carriers have not yet said which countries could fall into this category.
The universal testing requirement takes effect on January 26. People arriving from the UK have already been subject to similar testing requirements, which came into force in December following the emergence of a new strain of coronavirus there.
What test will I need and when? What if I don’t have my results? Air passengers traveling in the United States must be tested no more than three days before the flight and bring written or electronic evidence of the results. Airlines can accept both PCR and rapid antigen tests. If you do not have the documentation with you, the airlines will not allow you to board, as ordered by the CDC.
Airlines are still developing the exact protocols they will use to verify test results. Customers coming from the United Kingdom of United Airlines show test results in the lobby before security, but the details may not be the same for other countries, said a spokesman for United Airlines Holdings Inc.
What if I was vaccinated?
Even if you have been vaccinated for Covid-19, you will still need to show evidence of a negative test.
What if I recently had Covid-19 and I’m fine?
If you have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last three months but no longer have symptoms, the CDC does not recommend that you be tested again. If you are in this group and you have met the criteria for termination of isolation, the CDC says you can travel as long as you have written permission from a health care provider or public health officer. Bring your positive test result and the doctor’s letter to show the airline instead of a negative test result.
Does this mean that the United States has lifted bans on most travel from Europe, Britain and other countries?
Not at this moment. Airlines are urging the government to lift these bans, especially now that testing requirements are in place. However, the government has not taken any action in this way, so non-US citizens or permanent residents cannot come to the United States from most of Europe, Britain, Brazil, China and Iran. Similarly, many countries do not allow passengers to enter from the United States or continue to impose prolonged quarantine requirements on arrival.
What if I have to change my travel plans now?
Airlines have already removed most international change fees and added more flexibility for people who need to adjust their plans and reach the United States before the new testing requirements take effect.
American Airlines Group Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc., for example, will allow people to book international tickets to the United States that were scheduled for Feb. 9, as long as the new trip begins on or before Jan. 25. This means it can book to fly before testing is needed without paying higher prices at the last minute.
Do I have to be tested again or quarantined when I return to the United States?
The CDC recommends that people take a second test three to five days after the trip and stay home for seven days (or 10 days without a second test). Testing alone is no substitute for social distancing and wearing face masks, CDC officials said.