Air travelers to the US will have to show a negative coronavirus test before they may board a flight, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. The new order takes effect Jan. 26.
The CDC expressed concern about new variants of the virus that appear to be more transmissible, although dozens of such cases have already been found across the US.
“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 CDC said in a statement.
“Air passengers are required to get a viral test (a test for current infection) within the three days before their flight to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19,” the statement said.
The CDC said the airlines must confirm the negative test and if a passenger doesn't take one, the airline should not let them board.
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in the statement that while testing does not eliminate all risk "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."