A man checks in at a Covid-19 testing site in the international arrivals area of Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California on December 22, 2021.
Frederick J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
On Sunday, the Biden administration will lift the Covid-19 testing requirement for incoming air passengers from overseas, ending one of the longest-running travel restrictions of the pandemic.
The rule, introduced by the Trump administration in early 2021 and then tightened by the Biden administration, most recently required arriving travelers, including US citizens, to show proof of a negative Covid test the day before boarding a flight bound for the US. Travelers entering the US through land border crossings have been exempted.
The change takes effect at 00:01 ET on Sunday.
Airlines and other members of the travel industry have repeatedly pushed the administration to lift the requirement, claiming it reduces demand for international travel. The tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.
American Airlines CEO Robert Isom said at an industry conference last week that he met with politicians in Washington, D.C. to discuss testing requirements, a rule he called “meaningless.”
“We are very upset,” he said.
Other countries, including the UK, have previously waived Covid testing rules.
“The Biden administration is to be commended for this move, which will welcome returning visitors from around the world and accelerate the recovery of the US travel industry,” US Travel Association president Roger Doe said in a statement. “International inbound travel is vital for businesses and workers across the country who have struggled to recover losses in this valuable sector.”
For his part, Mike Liptak, vice president of government relations for the Tourism Technology Association, said in a statement that travel and tourism are key to economic recovery from the pandemic. Nick Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, a lobbying group for America’s largest carriers, said the industry “looks forward to continuing to work with the administration to prioritize passenger safety and wellbeing and enforce air travel regulations.” in science.”
According to a senior Biden administration official, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will reconsider the decision in 90 days.
“If the need arises to reinstate the pre-departure testing requirement — including due to a new, concerning option — the CDC will take action without hesitation,” the official said.
The travel industry has clashed with both the Biden and Trump administrations throughout the pandemic over regulations aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, including a strict U.S. travel ban for most foreign visitors that was eventually lifted in November. A White House spokesman said most non-citizens arriving in the US will still need to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination before flying to the US.
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