The United States is making travel less taxing for the people travelling to the country by lifting one of the last government mandates to curb Covid-19. It is doing away with its requirement of a mandatory Covid-19 test within a day before boarding flights for travellers to the U.S.
Confirming this, a senior administration official said the mandate expires Sunday at 12:01 a.m. EDT, and the decision was taken as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that it’s no longer necessary.
However, this will be kept under check. The official, speaking Friday on the condition of anonymity to preview the formal announcement, said that the agency would reevaluate the need for the testing requirement every 90 days and that it could be reinstated if a troubling new variant emerges.
The testing requirement was put forward by the Biden administration as it moved away from restrictions that banned nonessential travel from several dozen countries. In the list, it had most of Europe, China, Brazil, South Africa, India and Iran. The U.S instead focused on classifying individuals by the risk they pose to others. It came together with a requirement that foreign, non-immigrant adults travelling to the United States need to be fully vaccinated, with a few exceptions.
The first mandate allowed fully vaccinated people to show proof of a negative test within three days of travel and the unvaccinated people to present a test taken within one day of travel.
This mandate was further tightened in November, as the high as the new variant omicron started spreading across the world. The Biden administration asked the travellers regardless of vaccination status, to test within a day of travel to the U.S. Airlines and tourism groups have been urging the administration for months to remove the testing requirement, indicating that fewer people will be booking international trips as the procedures are demotivating.
Similarly, aiming to increase the tourist footfall that was hugely affected by the pandemic several countries have lifted their testing requirements for fully vaccinated and boosted travellers.
In February, the groups argued the testing requirement was obsolete because of the high number of omicron cases already in every state, higher vaccination rates and new treatments for the virus.
“I’m glad CDC suspended the burdensome coronavirus testing requirement for international travellers, and I’ll continue to do all I can to support the strong recovery of our hospitality industry,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, said.
The lifting of the requirement comes six weeks after the legal sanctions. The federal judge ended the CDC’s mask requirement for mass transit, including trains, planes, buses and transit hubs, saying the agency exceeded its authority. The U.S administration is appealing that ruling, saying it aims to protect the CDC’s ability to respond to future health emergencies.
The official said the CDC will continue to recommend COVID-19 testing prior to air travel of any kind as a safety precaution.