The US will require a negative COVID-19 test from international travellers starting January 26

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Passengers in a Dulles International airport terminal on December 27, 2020. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images
  • The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention will begin requiring negative COVID-19 tests from all travellers entering the US starting January 26.
  • International travellers must provide proof of COVID-19 recovery or present a negative COVID-19 test in order to board the plane.
  • “Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19,” the CDC said in an email statement sent to Insider. “This strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans.”
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The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention will begin requiring a negative COVID-19 test from international travellers.

Robert R. Redfield, the CDC director, is set to sign the order on January 12. It will then be implemented starting January 26.

This order — which was first reported by Wall Street Journal — builds upon the CDC’s recent decision to require all passengers flying into the US from the UK to show a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding, a call that was made following detections of a new, more transmissible coronavirus strain in the UK.

“Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19,” the CDC said in an email statement sent to Insider. “This strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans.”

According to the statement from the CDC, the decision to require negative COVID-19 tests from all passengers flying into the US was made in hopes of decreasing the spread of the virus while the government continues its mass vaccination efforts.

Travellers looking to fly to the US will have to obtain a negative viral test within three days prior to the flight. The travellers will then have to provide a copy of the lab test results to the airlines or provide documented proof of having recovered from the virus.


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Airlines are then responsible for confirming the traveller’s test results or proof of recovery before the passenger boards. Potential passengers that don’t provide proof of COVID-19 recovery or present a negative test will not be allowed to board the aircraft.

The CDC further advises both getting another COVID-19 test three to five days after arriving, and staying home for a week.

“Testing does not eliminate all risk 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,” Robert R. Redfield, the CDC director, said in a statement.

The US isn’t the only country mandating negative coronavirus tests from international travellers. Countries like Japan, Australia,Turkey, Taiwan, and even the UK currently have the same testing mandate.