Health officials on March 17, 2020, carry supplies from a screening area for international arrivals at Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia.
/ AP, WASHINGTON
US President Joe Biden’s administration is lifting its requirement that international travelers test negative for COVID-19 within a day before boarding a flight to the US, ending one of its last remaining mandates designed to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention （CDC） announced on Friday that the requirement would be lifted today.
Non-US citizens would still be required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before entering the country.
The health agency said it would continue to monitor the state of the COVID-19 pandemic and reassess the need for a testing requirement if the situation changes.
“This step is possible because of the progress we’ve made in our fight against COVID-19,” US Secretary of Health Xavier Becerra said.
Airlines and tourism groups have been pressing the administration for months to eliminate the testing requirement, saying it discourages people from booking international trips because they could be stranded overseas if they contract the virus on their trip.
US Travel Association president Roger Dow called lifting the testing rule “another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States.”
Airlines said the rule was put into effect when few Americans were vaccinated against COVID-19, while CDC figures now show that 71 percent of those aged five or older are fully vaccinated.
They said that people entering the US at land borders are not required to test negative for COVID-19, although they must show proof of vaccination.
While domestic US travel has returned nearly to pre-pandemic levels, international travel — which is very lucrative for the airlines — has continued to lag.
Last month, US international air travel remained 24 percent below 2019 levels, with declines among US and foreign citizens, data provided by trade group Airlines for America showed.