Say goodbye to those pre-flight Covid tests before boarding an airplane into the US. As of Sunday, June 12, the Biden administration is suspending that requirement.
Since January 2021, travelers flying into the country have had to show proof of a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours of their fights. That changes just after midnight on the 12th. Proof of vaccination against Covid-19 will still be required of non-US nationals.
This change brings the US into parity with many other destinations for Americans around the world. Most of Europe, for example, has for months allowed travelers to enter with no proof of negative test, although some continue to require proof of vaccination.
Authorities say that’s been a major stumbling block for overseas visitors reluctant to book air tickets, lodging, local transportation and more if plans could be scuttled. US passengers, too, have held back on international travel for fear that they may get stuck overseas, with all the resulting quarantining and expense of extending their trips.
Citing greater prevention and treatment measures for Covid, airlines have been lobbying for this change for many months. “Quite frankly, the only impact the pre-departure testing requirement is having is a chilling effect on an already fragile economy here in the US,” said Nicholas E. Calio, President and CEO of Airlines for America, the industry trade group, in May. “It is past time for the US to catch up with the rest of the globe, follow the science and eliminate this pandemic-era barrier to air travel.”
“Today marks another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States,” said Roger Dow, President and CEO of the US Travel Association, the travel industry lobbying group, as he praised the Biden administration for this action.
“Prior to the pandemic, travel was one of our nation’s largest industry exports. The lifting of this requirement will enable the industry to lead the way toward a broader US economic and jobs recovery,” he continued. “More than half of international travelers in a recent survey pointed to the pre-departure testing requirement as a major deterrent for inbound travel to the US.”
Political officials also lobbied for this change. Some 40 US mayors — from New York to Miami to San Francisco and all in between — sent a letter this week to Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s Coronovirus Response Coordinator. Noting that international visitations to the US in 2021 were down “a staggering 78% below prepandemic levels,” the mayors said that “American cities are still struggling to regain international visitors.” They cited surveys of major inbound markets finding that “the pre-departure testing requirement is a deterrent to travel” as overseas travelers “prioritize traveling to destinations without cumbersome entry requirements.”
“Repealing the pre-departure testing requirement could bring an additional 5.4 million visitors to the U.S. and an additional $9 billion in travel spending through the remainder of 2022,” Dow said, citing this report.
All that said, the Centers for Disease Control continues to recommend pre-departure testing.