May 22, 2024

Alex o'Loughlin

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U.S. to End COVID-19 Testing Requirement to Enter the Country

Since January 2021, travelers boarding a flight to the United States have needed to produce a negative COVID-19 test result to enter the country. Now, that testing requirement is set to end, reports CNN.

Citing an unnamed senior administration official, CNN reports that the U.S. testing requirement for inbound travelers will end Sunday, June 12, at midnight, with an announcement from the Biden Administration expected today, June 10. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans to revisit the testing requirement in 90 days. If a troublesome new variant emerges, for example, the federal body could reinstate it, per CNN. 

When the U.S. first implemented the testing rule a year and a half ago, the Delta variant of COVID-19 had just made its way into the country for the first time. Initially, all travelers who wished to enter the U.S. needed to take a viral test within three days of boarding a flight to the country, then share those results with their airline. In December 2021, as the highly contagious Omicron variant began spreading within the U.S., the federal government tightened the testing timeframe to 24 hours.

Though the entry testing requirement for all inbound travelers—returning U.S. citizens and international visitors alike—is going away, international tourists who want to visit the U.S. will still need to show proof of vaccination to enter the country. (U.S. citizens are not required to be vaccinated to re-enter the country.)

The move comes amid the latest surge of the virus in the country., with health officials recording roughly 110,000 new cases per day, but the removal of the U.S. testing requirement follows a trend toward loosening restrictions: Following an April 2022 court order, the government stopped enforcing its requirement that people wear masks in airports, on planes, and in other public transportation areas, a rule that had been in place since January 2021.