US ending COVID test requirement for international travel

A senior Biden administration official says the CDC will reevaluate the need for the testing requirement every 90 days and it could be reintroduced.

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is lifting its requirement that international air travelers to the United States take a COVID-19 test within one day before boarding their flights, relaxing one of the last remaining government mandates to stem the spread of the coronavirus must.

A senior administration official said the mandate expires at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday and said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had determined it was no longer necessary. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity on Friday to preview the formal announcement, said the agency will reevaluate the need for the testing requirement every 90 days and that it could be reintroduced if a worrying new variant were discovered shows up.

The Biden administration introduced the testing requirements last year as it moved away from restrictions banning non-essential travel from several dozen countries — most of Europe, China, Brazil, South Africa, India and Iran — and opted instead focuses on classifying people according to the risk they pose to others. It came in conjunction with the requirement that foreign nonimmigrant adults traveling to the United States be fully vaccinated, with only a few exceptions.

The original mandate allowed people who were fully vaccinated to show a negative test within three days of travel, while unvaccinated people had to show a test taken within one day of travel.

When the highly transmissible Omicron variant swept the world in November, the Biden administration tightened the requirement, requiring all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to get tested within a day of traveling to the United States

Airlines and tourism groups have been pressuring the administration for months, pushing to scrap testing requirements as they discourage people from booking international travel. Many other countries have slightly increased their testing requirements for fully vaccinated travelers to boost tourism.

In February, the groups argued that testing requirements were obsolete because of the already high number of Omicron cases in every state, higher vaccination rates and new treatments for the virus.

“I’m glad CDC has suspended the onerous coronavirus testing requirements for international travelers, and I will continue to do what I can to support the strong recovery of our hospitality industry,” Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev said in a statement.

The removal of the requirement comes six weeks after a federal judge ended the CDC’s mask requirement for mass transit, including trains, planes, buses and interchanges, saying the agency had exceeded its powers. The Biden administration is appealing that ruling, saying it is aimed at protecting the CDC’s ability to respond to future health emergencies.

The official said the CDC will continue to recommend COVID-19 testing before air travel of any kind as a safety precaution. US ending COVID test requirement for international travel

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