The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday that it would drop the requirement for international travelers to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test before heading to the United States effective June 12.
The airline and travel industries have been lobbying the Biden administration for months in a bid to have the rules eased for fully vaccinated travelers, arguing dropping the rule would generate $2 billion a month in U.S. travel exports alone.
The White House has gone one step further and will no longer require any traveler to take a pre-departure test regardless of vaccination status. A spokesperson for the CDC said the decision had been made “based on the science”.
The United States has been an outlier amongst its peers by requiring travelers present proof of a negative COVID-19 test before international travel. The rule required all travelers aged two and over to have a negative test within one day of travel.
The CDC said it would reassess the situation after 90 days and “continue to evaluate” the policy on an ongoing basis. “If there is a need to reinstate a pre-departure testing requirement – including due to a new, concerning variant – CDC will not hesitate to act,” the statement continued.
Travel industry leaders met administration officials at a meeting in the White House last month where they once again pushed for the rules to be relaxed.
A trade group which represents the likes of American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines said pre-departure testing was “no longer aligned with the current epidemiological environment”.
“Science has shown time and time again that the pre-departure testing requirement is not effective and is not stopping or even slowing the spread of COVID,” the trade group Airlines for America said.
“For months, our industry has urged Washington to sunset this pandemic-era policy, which continues to harm our nation’s economy and hinder air travel to the U.S.”
The U.S. Travel Association estimates that inbound tourist numbers could be boosted by 20 percent this summer with the removal of pre-departure testing. The lobby group says the surge in foreign tourists will support as many as 40,000 American jobs.
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.