BOSTON (SHNS) – Effective Jan. 26, all air passengers entering the U.S. must have a negative COVID-19 test, the Centers for Disease Control announced Tuesday, citing the emergence of new variants of the virus and increased transmission.
Under the order signed by CDC Director Robert Redfield, air passengers will be required to get a viral test within the three days before their flight to the U.S., and provide written documentation of their lab test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19.
Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery, the agency said, and if a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding.
“Before departure to the United States, a required test, combined with the CDC recommendations to get tested again 3-5 days after arrival and stay home for 7 days post-travel, will help slow the spread of COVID-19 within US communities from travel-related infections. Pre-departure testing with results known and acted upon before travel begins will help identify infected travelers before they board airplanes,” the CDC said.
The U.S. is “already in surge status,” the CDC noted, predicting the new requirement would help slow the spread of the virus as more Americans are vaccinated.
“Testing does not eliminate all risk,” said 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.”