US to Require Arriving Passengers to Show Proof of COVID Test

    13 January 2021

    American health officials say that anyone flying to the United States will soon need to show proof of a negative test for COVID-19.

    The new restrictions take effect on January 26.

    FILE - Travelers walk through the nearly empty JetBlue terminal at Logan Airport on Nov. 20, 2020, in Boston, Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
    FILE - Travelers walk through the nearly empty JetBlue terminal at Logan Airport on Nov. 20, 2020, in Boston, Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

    The order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires air passengers to get a COVID-19 test within three days of their flight to the U.S.

    Airlines are ordered to stop passengers from boarding if they do not have proof of a negative test. Travelers can also provide documentation that they had the infection in the past and recovered.

    All air travelers aged two and older must follow the CDC order. However, passengers who only have a stopover in the U.S. before flying to another country do not have to provide proof of a negative COVID test.

    The order affects U.S. citizens as well as foreign travelers. The health agency said it delayed the start date until January 26 to give airlines and travelers time to meet the requirements.

    The CDC says it will consider exceptions of testing requirements for airlines flying from countries with little or no testing abilities, including some places in the Caribbean.

    Aim to control new forms of virus

    The expanded travel order is similar to one announced late last month for passengers coming from Britain. It is designed to try to prevent travelers from bringing in new forms of the virus that scientists say can spread more easily.

    "Testing does not eliminate all risk," CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said in a statement. Redfield added, when combined with other preventative measures, testing "can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations."

    It is likely that the recently identified version of the virus from Britain is "in every state or most states," said Dr. Ashisha Jha. He is dean of Brown University's school of public health in Rhode Island. So far, 10 U.S. states have reported 72 cases of the new form.

    COVID-19 is already widespread in the U.S., with more than 22.8 million cases reported. Johns Hopkins University reports that more than 380,000 people have died. And the country recorded 4,327 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, a one-day record high.

    But the new order may stop or reduce spread of other versions of the virus, like the one recently identified in South Africa.

    Airlines have been pushing for pre-flight testing instead of continued travel restrictions between the U.S. and the rest of the world.

    Nicole Carriere is a spokeswoman for United Airlines. She said testing is "key to unlocking international borders and safely reopening global travel."

    Others say the CDC order is unlikely to cause an immediate increase in international travel.

    Henry Harteveldt is a travel expert with Atmosphere Research Group. He told The Associated Press, "People are being encouraged by their public health authorities to not travel, even domestically."

    He added that he does not expect air travel to increase until the summer, after more people have been vaccinated.

    I'm Ashley Thompson.

    The Associated Press reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for VOA Learning English, with additional materials from Reuters news agency. Hai Do was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    negative - adj. not showing the presence of a particular germ, condition, or substance

    eliminate - v. to remove (something that is not wanted or needed) : to get rid of (something)

    destination - n. a place to which a person is going or something is being sent

    global - adj. involving the entire world

    encourage - v. to tell or advise (someone) to do something

    authorities - n. people who have power to make decisions and enforce rules and laws

    domestically - adv. of, relating to, or made in your own country

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