All air passengers travelling to the US will need to present a negative Covid test, or proof of Covid recovery, prior to boarding as of 26 January under a new order signed by the Center of Disease Control (CDC). The test must have been performed in the three days prior to departure, and applies to US and non-US citizens.
Official Notice of the Measure
The CDC signed the order on 12 January, with airlines to be responsible for checking adherence and prohibiting those without tests or proof of recovery from entering the plane. The order states:
(this) Notice and Order prohibit the introduction into the United States of any aircraft passenger departing from any foreign country unless the passenger:
(1) has a negative pre-departure test result for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 (Qualifying Test); or
(2) written or electronic documentation of recovery from COVID-19 after previous SARS-CoV-2 infection in the form of a positive viral test result and a letter from a licensed health care provider or public health official stating that the passenger has been cleared for travel (Documentation of Recovery).
Children under the age of two are exempt from the order. There are also exemptions for cabin crew and citizens of overseas US territories such as Guam.
The law will come into effect during the first week of new President Joe Biden’s administration as the US continues to lead the world in total number of Covid patients and deaths. The CDC currently states around 400 000 people have died in the country with Covid listed as a cause or contributing factor on the death certificate.
Major US airlines such as Delta and United have already released advisory information to passengers on the new rules. US embassies around the world issued alerts on the CDC order on 19 January, following a State Department notice on 15 January.
Although international travel has been greatly reduced due to Covid restrictions, statistics from the Bureau of Transportation said the US received 2.9 million international arrivals in December 2020. Official advice for travellers is to self-isolate for 10 days after arrival.
Existing Testing Efforts at LAX
In another Covid-related US aviation industry move, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has announced it now offers rapid on-site Covid antigen tests. The tests provide results in under one hour, and are available from the LAX lab at Terminal 6 for cost $80 USD. This form of test, also known as the Lateral Flow test, have been slowly rolled out across many parts of the world over the past few months, due to their rapid turnaround time.
LAX has also offered the ‘Golden Standard’ (Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)) Covid tests since December, which can take up-to three days to get the results from.
Have you travelled recently and experienced having to have a compulsory test? Let us know your experience in the comments below!