Covid: US to drop test requirement for air travellerson June 10, 2022 at 4:27 pm

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The change, which comes into effect on Sunday, comes after pressure from the travel industry.

A traveler sits with her luggage at San Francisco International Airport on May 12, 2022 in San Francisco, California. According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, airline fares surged 18.6% in April as demand for air travel has increased due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions being easedImage source, Getty Images

The US will no longer require air travellers to have proof of a negative Covid-19 test before entering the country from abroad.

Officials said they were dropping the requirement due to the “tremendous progress” the country had made in the fight against the virus.

The travel industry has been pushing for an end to the policy, which they say has deterred bookings, as families fear getting stranded abroad.

The change comes into effect on Sunday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will re-evaluate the policy in 90 days. The administration said it would “not hesitate to act” to reinstate the rule should new variants make officials believe it is necessary.

“We are able to take this step because of the tremendous progress we’ve made in our fight against the virus: We have made lifesaving vaccines and treatments widely available and these tools are working to prevent serious illness and death, and are effective against the prevalent variants circulating in the US and around the world,” a senior official told reporters.

The US introduced rules requiring air travellers to test negative within three days of their flight – or provide proof of recent recovery from the virus – in January 2021. US President Joe Biden tightened the policy to within one day of flying in December, as the Omicron variant pushed virus cases higher. The measure did not apply to land crossings.

The travel industry, which has seen demand surge as concerns about the pandemic wane, has said the US has lagged behind other countries in re-evaluating the policies.

The UK removed all Covid-19 test requirements for travel in March, as did Canada. Italy ended its testing requirements this month.

US Travel Association president Roger Dow welcomed the move.

Eliminating the requirement is likely to bring an additional 5.4 million visitors to the US this year, boosting travel spending by 12%, according to the group’s research.

“Today marks another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States.

“The Biden administration is to be commended for this action, which will welcome back visitors from around the world and accelerate the recovery of the US travel industry,” he said.

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