The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has confirmed plans to possibly reduce the timeframe for pre-departure COVID-19 tests for international travel from three days to just one day.
The change, which would apply to fully vaccinated travelers, would standardize the pre-departure testing timeframe for both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers who already need to obtain a test within a single calendar day of departure.
In a statement, the CDC said a revised testing order “would shorten the timeline for required testing for all international air travelers to one day before departure to the United States.”
The change comes as the CDC learns more about the Omicron variant.
Reports in the Washington Post that the CDC wants to make quarantine on arrival and post-arrival testing mandatory, however, have been downplayed and would likely remain as advice for fully vaccinated travelers.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travelers are already required to self-isolate for seven days and take a second viral test between 3-5 days after arrival in the United States.
The Biden administration is weighing up a decision to make a post-arrival test mandatory for all air travelers, including fully vaccinated U.S. citizens.
When the administration first introduced pre-departure testing requirements, it chose a three-day timeframe because access to testing was still patchy in many international jurisdictions.
Testing infrastructure has vastly improved in the last six months and a one-day timeframe is now easily achievable for the majority of travelers. The minimum requirement for a pre-departure test is a rapid antigen test which can produce results in as little as 15-minutes.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.