The Biden administration is lifting the COVID-19 testing requirement for international travelers boarding a flight into the United States, ending one of the nation’s last travel restrictions and longest-running government mandates of the pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Friday (June 10) that the change will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday (June 12).
“CDC has determined that travelers have access to tools (e.g., vaccines, therapeutics, and recommended prevention measures) and guidance that allow travelers to make informed choices about the use of pre-departure testing and other prevention measures,” the health agency said.
Airlines, international travel partners, the rest of the travel industry, as well as scientists and lawmakers, including Democrats have been demanding the Biden administration for months to eliminate the testing requirement, saying it was no longer needed and that it discourages people from booking international trips because they could be stranded overseas if they contract the virus on their trip.
The travel restriction was first put in place by the Trump administration in the beginning of 2021 and later tightened by the Biden administration. Travelers were required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of flying. If not, they would have to rebook their flight, stay overseas until they tested negative, and fly back at a later date.
“The Biden administration is to be commended for this action, which will welcome back visitors from around the world and accelerate the recovery of the U.S. travel industry,” Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a statement. “International inbound travel is vitally important to businesses and workers across the country who have struggled to regain losses from this valuable sector.”
The CDC said it will continue to monitor state of the pandemic. The decision will be examined again after three months and would reinstate the requirement if necessary.