The Biden Administration has announced the end of its requirement to take a Covid-19 test before flying into the U.S.
According to a senior official from Biden’s administration, the decision will come into effect on Sunday at midnight EDT.
Welcome news (for most, not all)
International travellers into the country will no longer need to take a Covid-19 test, and produce a negative result, within a day before boarding in order to be permitted to fly. With this announcement, the U.S has ended one of its last remaining government mandates put in place to control the spread of the coronavirus during the pandemic.
The mandate has been in place since January 2021. The Biden administration put the testing requirement in place initially as a protective countermeasure after lifting bans on nonessential travel to some countries such as some European countries, China, South Africa, India, Brazil, and Iran.
The testing requirement also came with a requirement that non-immigrant adults travelling to the United States internationally need to be fully vaccinated (with only some limited exceptions).
Various U.S airlines and some scientists and lawmakers from both political parties have lobbied against the testing restriction and the mask mandate, arguing their relevance. 10 pilots from JetBlue, Southwest and American Airlines even sued the CDC over the mask mandate, claiming that medical evidence has shown the face coverings to be unnecessary and ineffective.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national public health agency for the United States, has reportedly concluded that the science and data available means that taking a test before travelling into the country is no longer necessary.
The CDC will reevaluate the need for testing every 90 days to keep on top of any potential coronavirus spikes, stating that the mandate could be reinstated if a new concerning variant emerges. The CDC also said that it will continue to recommend Covid-19 testing prior to air travel as a safety precaution.
The senior official has said that the Biden administration plans to work with airlines to ensure a smooth transition.
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto was pleased to see the end of the testing requirement. She said in a statement:
“I’m glad CDC suspended the burdensome coronavirus testing requirement for international travellers, and I’ll continue to do all I can to support the strong recovery of our hospitality industry.”
The lifting of the Covid-19 testing requirement comes six weeks after a federal judge ended the CDC’s mask mandate, which enforced a mask requirement on all mass transit including trains, planes, and buses. The judge said that the agency had exceeded its authority by keeping the mandate active up to now. The Biden administration is appealing the ruling, arguing that the mask mandate aims to protect the CDC’s ability to respond to future health emergencies and possible threatening coronavirus variants.
What do you think of the US putting the testing requirement to an end? Do you agree with the CDC regarding the mask mandate issue? Let us know all your thoughts on this story in the comments below.