WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nearly all flights must present a negative coronavirus test to enter the United States under extended testing requirements announced Tuesday.
Under the rules, which take effect Jan. 26, nearly all travelers, including U.S. citizens, must show a negative test within three days of departure or proof of recovery from COVID-1
All travelers aged 2 and over must comply with except passengers traveling through the United States only. The CDC will also consider exemptions from test requirements for airlines flying to countries with little or no test capacity, including some locations in the Caribbean.
The order dramatically extends a requirement imposed on December 28 for travelers arriving from the UK as a more transmissible variant of the virus circulating there.
In an interview, Marty Cetron, director of the CDC’s Global Migration and Quarantine Division, said, “We really need to step up in advance … We need to take these mutations seriously.”
Canada introduced similar rules for almost all international arrivals starting on January 7, as many other countries have done.
The CDC confirmed last week that it had circulated a proposal to extend the test requirement after discussing the idea for weeks. Some senior White House officials were against it, and officials informed of the case said last week that U.S. public health officials had essentially given up on gaining approval until President-elect Joe Biden took office.
At a meeting of the White House on Monday, Redfield again filed an urgent case to adopt the test requirements, people informed about the meeting said. He raised concerns that vaccines could potentially not be effective against virus variants.
Airlines for America, an industry trade group, praised the test plan. Airlines had also wanted a ban dropped on most non-US visitors who have recently been to Brazil and most of Europe, but the White House chose not to end it.
Cetron said access restrictions “must be actively considered.”
Cetron confirmed that the CDC has discussed the idea of extending the test requirement to domestic flights in the United States, but stressed that the new order only applies to international flights.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Clip by Chris Reese, Dan Grebler and Cynthia Osterman