This morning marked a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic for international travelers as the U.S. is officially no longer requiring a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a flight into the country.
The news broke Friday, with reports circulating that an announcement was imminent, and then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the change shortly after.
“Today, CDC is announcing that the Order requiring persons to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States, will be rescinded, effective on June 12, 2022, at 12:01 AM ET,” the CDC wrote in its announcement.
“This means that starting at 12:01 AM ET on June 12, 2022, air passengers will not need to get tested and show the COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 prior to boarding a flight to the U.S.”
While the CDC said that the need for testing requirements could be reassessed “if the situation changes,” the pandemic “has now shifted to a new phase.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has now shifted to a new phase, due to the widespread uptake of highly effective COVID-19 vaccines, the availability of effective therapeutics, and the accrual of high rates of vaccine- and infection-induced immunity at the population level in the United States.
“Each of these measures has contributed to lower risk of severe disease and death across the United States. As a result, this requirement which was needed at an earlier stage in the pandemic may be withdrawn.”
The requirement had been in place since January 2021 and was tightened to one day from three days in December 2021 as the Omicron variant spread. Even as other countries, including Canada, the U.K., Germany, and more, removed their own inbound testing rule, the U.S. kept its in place, drawing the ire of major voices across the travel industry who were pushing for a return to normal.
That included travel advisors and agency owners who recently told TMR that, even with the testing requirement being wound down abroad, the return test had proved to be a sticky point for their clients.
Now, with the inbound test removed, the CDC is still recommending some protocols to travelers. That includes a recommendation to get a COVID-19 test whether you are traveling international or domestic.
While no test is required to travel domestically (or internationally unless the inbound destination has a testing requirement), the new guidance suggests travelers “consider” it, even those who are up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots.
“All travelers: Consider getting tested as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than 3 days) before your trip,” the guidance reads.