U.S. to Require International Travelers — Including Citizens — to Show Negative COVID Test
The CDC order, which includes Americans returning from abroad, will require proof of a negative test result to enter the country and goes into effect on Jan. 26
The United States will soon require all international travelers flying into the country to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flight at their departure point.
According to a statement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Tuesday afternoon, it is "expanding the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to all air passengers entering the United States." The order will go into effect Jan. 26.
All airline passengers, including U.S. citizens, who wish to enter the country will be "required to get a viral test (a test for current infection) within the 3 days before their flight to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19."
Airlines will be required to check each passengers' documentation and if someone doesn't have their results or has elected not to take a test, "must deny boarding to the passenger."
The statement continues, "Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19. This strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans."
The decision comes after weeks of discussion between federal agencies and the White House's coronavirus task force, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The expansion of the CDC travel orders comes less than a month after a new rule that travelers must show proof of a negative test result within three days of flying into the U.S. from the United Kingdom. That order came amid concerns of a faster-spreading COVID-19 variant on the rise in the U.K. (The new strain has since been identified in the U.S. as well).
Per the CDC's guidelines, Americans are advised to avoid traveling to the U.K..
Back in March 2020, President Donald Trump signed a mandate that restricted the entry of foreign citizens who had been to the U.K. within 14 days.
After the new strain of COVID-19 began to spread more rapidly in the country, the European Union placed a travel ban on the U.K. The U.S. followed suit, implementing new restrictions on traveling into the U.S. from the U.K. that went into effect on December 28, and require travelers to get a viral test within 72 hours of their flight and show their results to their airline. The CDC says not to travel while awaiting test results.
Despite continuing spikes in cases across the U.S., and the CDC urging against it, Americans are still traveling. The day before Christmas Eve saw the most airport travelers in a single day since March. More than 1.1 million people were screened at airports on Dec. 23, the Transportation Security Administration said.
The CDC previously released guidelines for holiday celebration this year that included urging people to stay "at home with the people who live with you."
As of Tuesday, the U.S. has reported over 22.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, while at least 379,020 people have died. Worldwide, there have been more than 91.3 million cases and more than 1.9 million deaths related to the virus, according to the New York Times' coronavirus database.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.