The Biden administration is removing the requirement that overseas aviation visitors visiting the United States take a Covid-19 test within a day of boarding their flights, relaxing one of the last remaining government restrictions aimed at controlling the coronavirus’s spread.
The requirement will expire at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Sunday, according to a senior administration official, since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has judged that it is no longer essential. The individual said the government will examine the necessity for the testing requirement every 90 days and that it may be reintroduced if a disturbing new variation develops, speaking on the condition of anonymity to preempt the formal announcement.
Last year, the Biden administration implemented the testing requirement as part of a shift away from restrictions that barred nonessential travel from a number of countries, including the majority of Europe, China, Brazil, South Africa, India, and Iran, in favor of categorizing people based on the risk they pose to others. It was accompanied by a requirement that non-immigrant foreign adults going to the United States be completely vaccinated, with just a few exceptions.
Those who had been completely vaccinated may produce proof of a negative test within three days of travel, but those who had not been fully vaccinated had to show proof of a test done within one day of flight.
The Biden administration reinforced the rule in November, as the highly transmissible omicron strain swept the globe, requiring all passengers, regardless of immunization status, to test within a day of arrival in the United States.
For months, airline and tourist organizations have lobbied the government to remove the testing requirement, claiming that it is preventing consumers from booking overseas trips. Many other nations have relaxed their vaccination restrictions for fully immunized visitors in order to enhance tourism.
The groups claimed in February that the testing requirement was no longer necessary due to the enormous number of omicron cases already present in every state, higher immunization rates, and novel viral therapies.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev, said in a statement, “I’m delighted CDC postponed the onerous coronavirus testing requirement for foreign passengers, and I’ll continue to do all I can to support the robust recovery of our hotel industry.”
The restriction was lifted six weeks after a federal judge overturned the CDC’s mask rule for mass transit, which included trains, aircraft, buses, and transit hubs, claiming the agency had overstepped its power. The Biden administration has filed an appeal, claiming that it wants to maintain the CDC’s ability to respond to future health crises.
As a safety measure, the CDC will continue to encourage Covid-19 testing prior to any type of flight travel, according to the official.