US to require negative Covid-19 tests for inbound international air passengers

Nearly all air travellers will need to present a negative coronavirus test to enter the United States under expanded testing requirements announced on Tuesday.

Under the rules taking effect Jan. 26, nearly all travelers including U.S. citizens must show a negative test within three days of departure or documentation of recovery from COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

All travellers aged 2 and older must comply except passengers who are only transiting through the United States. The CDC will also consider waivers of testing requirements for airlines flying to countries with little or no testing capacity, including some places in the Caribbean.

The order broadened a requirement imposed on Dec. 28 for travellers arriving from the UK as a more transmissible variant of the virus circulated there.

The CDC confirmed last week it had circulated a proposal to expand the testing requirement worldwide. Officials briefed on the matter said last week U.S. public health officials had essentially given up winning approval until President-elect Joe Biden took office.

Canada imposed similar rules for nearly all international arrivals starting Jan. 7, as have many other countries.

At a White House meeting on Monday, CDC Director Robert Redfield again made an urgent case to adopt the testing requirements, people briefed on the meeting said. He raised concerns that vaccines could potentially not be effective against virus variants.

Earlier this month, major U.S. airlines backed the CDC’s push to implement a global testing program requiring negative tests for air passengers flying to the United States.

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