Starting from January 26, it will be mandatory for air passengers two years and older, including U.S. citizens, to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the three days before their flight into the country, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement on Tuesday.
The CDC also recommended a follow-up test three to five days later and a seven-day post-travel quarantine for passengers entering the U.S.
The CDC is expanding the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to all air passengers entering the United States. Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19, the CDC said in a statement. According to the CDC, this strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans.
The CDC stated that variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, and there is evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants. With the U.S. already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as the CDC works to vaccinate the American public.
Before departure to the United States, a required test, combined with the CDC recommendations to get tested again three to five days after arrival and stay home for seven days post-travel, will help slow the spread of COVID-19 within U.S. 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.
Air passengers are required to get a viral test (a test for current infection) within three 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 must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board. If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, the airline will deny boarding to the passenger.
“Testing does not eliminate all risk,” says CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, “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.”
This order was signed by the CDC Director on January 12, 2021 and will become effective on January 26, 2021.