The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made proof of a negative Covid-19 test pre-departure mandatory for all inbound travellers to the US.
The new regulation will come into effect from 26 January 2021 – a move that the CDC says is a ‘critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of Covid’ and one it feels is ‘consistent with the current phase of the pandemic’.
“Testing does not eliminate all risk,” added CDC director Robert Redfield. “But, when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations.”
Drop post-arrival quarantine requirements, urges the US Travel Association
The US Travel Association has commended the CDC’s decision – the organisation’s Executive Vice-President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes commented: “A testing requirement provides yet another layer of safety for international travel and should be accompanied by other risk-based policies, including lifting international inbound travel restrictions and dropping any post-arrival quarantine requirements.”
Barnes continued: “With an international testing requirement in place, international visitors and returning residents would be tested at much higher rates than the general public and pose a much lower risk of transmitting the disease. So, it would make sense to lift international travel restrictions and quarantine requirements at the same time.”
However, the CDC also recommends that arrivals isolate for seven days (leaving only to seek an additional test after three to five days), in line with the mandatory pre-departure testing requirements.
It doesn’t look as though things are ready to fully ease up just yet, but when they do, many believe that Covid vaccines could be a pre-requisite for travel. Until all the kinks are ironed out, however, it’ll likely be a mix of testing, quarantining and maintaining the highest levels of sanitation.
As Barnes reasoned: “With a risk-based, layered approach to health and safety throughout every aspect of travel, it’s possible to both protect public health and allow travel to safely resume.” We’ll see.