CDC to require negative COVID-19 tests for nearly all international air travelers

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BANGKOK, THAILAND – JANUARY 12: Thai nurses label and sanitize a COVID-19 test at Vibhavadi Hospital on January 12, 2021 in Bangkok, Thailand. Following the new years holiday, Bangkok went into partial lockdown as the country steps up efforts to control a quickly growing second wave of Covid-19 infections. Restrictions include limitations on Interprovincial travel, strict closing times for restaurants, reimplemented social distancing measures and daily sanitization. To date Thailand has over 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 67 related deaths. (Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

(NewsNation Now) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order Tuesday expanding coronavirus testing requirements for nearly all international air travelers starting Jan. 26.

The new rules will require all U.S.-bound passengers age 2 and over to get negative COVID-19 test results within three calendar days before their flight to the U.S. departs and provide written documentation of their laboratory test results or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19.

“Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19. This strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans,” a Tuesday news release from the CDC stated. “Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, and there is evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants.  With the US already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the American public.”

The order will be signed by the CDC Director on Jan. 12 and go in effect on Jan. 26, 2021.

Read more from the CDC on the expanded requirement.

United Airlines reacted to the news.

We look forward to working with the federal government on implementing this new order – as the first airline to offer COVID customer testing, we know it is key to unlocking international borders and safely reopening global travel. United already has procedures in place to comply with similar orders for international jurisdictions, and we will plan on expanding those in light of this new mandate. Additionally, United is actively working to introduce new technologies and processes to make navigating these testing requirements easier both for our employees and our customers.  

United Airlines

Reuters contributed to this report.

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