U.S. lifts COVID-19 travel mandate

U.S. lifts COVID-19 travel mandate

The United States rescinded a 17 month old requirement that people arriving in the country by air test negative for COVID 19, a move that follows intense lobbying by airlines and the travel industry.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC Director Rochelle Walensky issued a four-sided order lifting the mandate, effective at 12: 01 a.m. It is not currently necessary, according to ET 0400 GMT Sunday. The requirement was one of the last major U.S. COVID 19 travel requirements. The summer travel season kicks off, and airlines were already preparing for record demand. Airlines have said that many Americans have not been able to travel internationally because of concerns they will be stranded abroad.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said the decision was based on science and available data and that the agency will not hesitate to reinstate a pre-departure testing requirement if needed later. An administration official said that the decision will be reassessed in 90 days.

Since January 2021, the United States has required incoming international air travelers to provide pre-departure negative tests. In December of this year the CDC tightened the rule to require travelers to test negative within one day before flights to the United States, rather than three days.

The CDC hasn't required testing for land border crossings.

Many countries in Europe and elsewhere have dropped testing requirements.

Most non-U are required by the CDC. S. citizens should be vaccinated against COVID to travel to the United States.

Two officials told Reuters that the Biden administration had considered lifting the testing rule only for vaccinated travelers.

JetBlue Airways Chief Executive Robin Hayes told Reuters on Friday that the testing requirement was the last obstacle to a full international travel recovery, and that it served no purpose anymore. The administration is removing the ineffective pre-departure COVID test for travel to the US, according to IATA, the world's biggest airline trade group. In April, a federal judge declared the CDC's requirements on travelers must wear masks on airplanes and in transit hubs like airports unenforceable, and the Biden administration stopped enforcing it. The Justice Department appealed the order, but there isn't a decision before fall at the earliest.

The CDC recommends that travelers wear masks and get COVID- 19 tests before and after international flights.

Raymond James said in a research note that lifting the restrictions is an important catalyst for international travel. Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Ed Bastian told Reuters last week that dropping the requirements will boost travel, as 44 of 50 countries Delta serves do not require testing.

U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow said Friday's move will speed up the recovery of the U.S. travel industry, which was hard hit by the Pandemic.