The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have removed the requirement to present a negative COVID-19 test result to gain entry to the United States.
From June 12, 2022, the new rule applies to all travelers arriving in the US from any foreign country, either by air or any another form of transportation.
Roger Dow, the CEO of the US Travel Association, has praised the decision as “another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States.”
Dow estimates that the lifting of the restrictions “could bring an additional 5.4 million visitors to the US and an additional $9 billion in travel spending through the remainder of 2022.”
The lifting of the test requirement means that visa-exempt travelers can now visit the US without proof of a negative COVID-19 test. They simply need to ensure that they have an approved United States ESTA visa waiver before departure.
Why the US Has Lifted the COVID-19 Test Requirement for Travelers?
The US has decided to lift the COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers partly due to the high rate of vaccination in the US. Around 67% of citizens of the USA have now been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
In a statement, the US CDC said that “the COVID-19 pandemic has now shifted to a new phase,” thanks to “the widespread uptake of highly effective COVID-19 vaccines”.
The also attributed the “lower risk of severe illness and death across the United States” to “the availability of effective therapeutics and the accrual of high rates of vaccine and infection-induced immunity at the population level”.
All passengers must still be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, proven with a certificate. The vaccine certificate must show that the traveler received the last dose of their vaccine at least 15 days before arriving in the US.
The move follows the lifting of the mandatory face mask mandate on public transportation in the USA in April. Travelers are no longer required to wear masks in US airports or on flights within the United States.
US Travel Companies Welcome the COVID-19 Test Removal
The removal of the testing requirement also follows intense lobbying of federal officials by many members of the US travel industry who were eager to remove remaining barriers to economic recovery.
In a letter sent in early June to White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha, over 260 prominent US travel organizations and businesses asked for the testing requirement to be removed.
The letter stated that “the wide range of public health tools to effectively manage COVID-19, combined with hospital grade ventilation systems onboard airplanes and the inbound vaccination requirement, have also made international air travel safer than ever.”
Removal of US Test Rules Sees the Return of Hassle-Free Travel
Frequent travelers to the US have welcomed the removal of the negative test requirement. It means that they no longer need to scramble to arrange a COVID-19 test prior to departure or upload the test results online before boarding their flight.
The lifting of the US COVID-19 test rules also means that there is a reduced risk of visitors needing to quarantine on arrival and miss out on precious vacation days.
The news also means that travelers no longer need to present a vaccine certificate to avoid testing for COVID, as vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers alike can now freely enter the US.
Nevertheless, the CDC has said that it will continue to reassess the need for a testing requirement and review the situation after 90 days. The rules may be reinstated and the public notified if any new variant causes concern.
The CDC still “continues to recommend that those travelers boarding a flight to the US get tested for current infection with a viral test” within 3 days of departure and “ not travel if they are sick”. They also continue to advise the use of masks on indoor public transport.