The United States on Tuesday announced that it was adding a mandatory COVID-19 test requirement for all inbound international travelers. Starting on Jan. 26, all air passengers will have to get a viral test within three days of their flight to the U.S. and bring documentation of either the test (can be electronic) or documentation that they were infected and recovered, to their airline. Airlines, according to the CDC rules, must then confirm the negative test for all passengers before boarding, and any passenger without the documentation must be denied boarding.
With the move, the United States joins Canada, which continues its mandatory test and 14-day quarantine requirements, as countries requiring testing for all inbound passengers, regardless of where they are coming from. While the new United States’ requirements are the strictest they’ve been since the pandemic started, it generally puts the country in line with a lot of European countries.
Here’s how five European countries are dealing with inbound international travelers:
Germany, which is seeing a record COVID-19 case surge in the country, is also making changes to its travel policies.
Last week, Germany announced that it was adopting a two-test COVID-19 strategy for inbound travelers coming from “risk areas” (areas where there have been more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants on a seven-day rolling basis) that include, most recently, Denmark, France, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, along with the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Italy, Canada, and more.
The program, which started on Jan. 11, requires anyone coming from those countries to get tested either 48 hours before or immediately upon arrival in Germany. It then requires travelers to get another test after a five-day mandatory quarantine. Some federal states within Germany will exempt arriving travelers from the self-quarantine if they can show a negative molecular biological COVID-19 test from an accredited lab conducted in the 48 hours prior to their entry.
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom, which is also experiencing a surge in cases along with a rising concern about a new COVID-19 strain, is also requiring tests upon entry. Starting on Jan. 15, all inbound travelers will have to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival, but, depending on which country within the United Kingdom travelers are visiting, the rest of the process is different.
England is allowing travelers to come into the country, present their negative test, and skip quarantine if the country they are coming from is on England’s “travel corridor” list that includes Australia, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, South Korea, and more. The United States and Canada are not on the list, so visitors will be forced to self-isolate upon entry.
Wales, on the other hand, is forcing virtually all inbound travelers outside of the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man, and select exempt countries to isolate for 10 days, while Scotland is requiring travelers coming in from countries with an infection rate above Scotland to isolate for 10 days (includes both the United States and Canada). However, non-essential travel to or from Scotland is currently illegal and will not immediately change with the introduction of pre-departure testing.
Starting on Jan. 16, all travelers arriving in Ireland will have to produce a negative COVID-19 test regardless of where they came in from.
The test must be taken within three days before they arrive in Ireland and airport border management will ask all passengers to show proof of the test upon arrival. Prior to Saturday, Ireland had that requirement in place for travelers arriving from Britain and South Africa because of the new strain, but the Cabinet this week agreed to impose the rule on all inbound travelers.
Once passengers do arrive, then the five-day quarantine requirement will be in place for those on the European Union’s “Red” travel list while those from “Green” and “Orange” countries will not have to restrict movement with a negative test. Those from Britain and South Africa will have to restrict movements for 14 days even with a negative test.
France is allowing some inbound travelers to arrive without restrictions, including those from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, and more. However, those coming in from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom can only enter if they are a French national, if they are a EU or United Kingdom citizen and their main residence is in France, or if they produce a negative test taken within 72 hours of departure.
Tourism in Italy is generally not allowed under new COVID-19 rules, including those coming from the United States.
Italy is allowing travelers to come in from low-risk countries—those from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and more can come in unrestricted while those coming in from most of the rest of Europe, excluding the United Kingdom, can come into the country as long as they provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of arrival.