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US drops the requirement for a negative Covid-19 test for entry

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The White House announced this afternoon that it was dropping all Covid-19 testing requirements for air travellers arriving into the US.

The rule had required all arriving air passengers to present a negative supervised antigen test before boarding their flight.

A negative test has been required for entry into the US by air since January 2021. This relaxation of the rules will initially only be in place for 90 days, at which point a further decision will be made on whether it should continue.

US drops requirement for covid testing on entry

To be fair, the test requirement itself was not expensive (it is a cheap antigen test, not a PCR) or onerous (you could take it in the full calendar day before travelling, and results were normally available within 30 minutes). You could even take the test via video link, as Rhys did before his trip to Atlanta this week.

That said, the requirement to test did create negative sentiment towards travel, especially as airlines moved to drop or weaken their Covid-19 cancellation or change policies. British Airways announced this week that it would no longer allow changes or cancellation of non-refundable tickets bought from Wednesday onwards.

The new rules will come into place from first thing on Sunday, although the exact timing – is it based on departure or arrival? – is yet to be clarified. This is unlikely to be an issue if flying from the UK, of course, since I don’t think there are any US flights which depart whilst it is still the previous day in the arrival city.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO said:

‘We’re thrilled that our customers will finally be able to travel hassle-free to the 26 destinations we fly to in the US, without the need to take expensive and onerous tests. With the summer holidays fast approaching, customers can try out our new routes to Portland and Pittsburgh, popular destinations like Austin and New Orleans, and firm favourites like New York and Los Angeles.’

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said:  

“The removal of pre-departure testing for international arrivals to the US is welcome news. It will boost consumer confidence even further and support the rebound in transatlantic travel this summer, with Virgin Atlantic leading the way offering a full roster of US destinations, including our brand new London Heathrow – Austin service.  

“Frictionless transatlantic travel in both directions means reconnecting with loved ones and business colleagues is made even easier, supported by an onboard policy which allows our customers and people to make a personal choice on face masks. We can’t wait to see more of our customers flying with us to the US this Summer.” 

You can find out more at CNN here which broke the story.

Comments (88)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Chris H says:

    Someone commented on the requirement for vaccinations still being needed. They said it is likely to stay this way for a long time to come.
    Is there any evidence to support this, or is it just an opinion.
    I am due to take my wife, son, and two grandchildren to Miami in August. We are all vaccinated apart from my son who still refuses to get vaccinated (he is 38, so impossible to force him. He is willing to stay at home rather than compromise his principles!!). So, I wondered if the administration has stated a timescale for relaxing the vaccination requirement, or is it just someone’s feeling, or prejudice against the USA administration????

    • Kowalski says:

      Considering the influence the big pharma companies have in the US, I would imagine they won’t drop the vaccination requirement for entry until at least next year sometime.

      Hope I’m wrong however and they drop this last barrier to travel.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      It’s their feeling but it’s a feeling based upon Bidens view about jabs and it being controlled by federal law.

      I can’t see him relaxing it by august but no one really knows

    • Doug says:

      American Airline sent an email today to say vaccination requirements remain for foreign nationals.

    • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

      Requiring vaccines is doing something. As politicians have repeatedly shown the past 2 years, they like to do something, regardless of its effectiveness or appropriateness

      • Joe says:

        Once upon a time vaccination meant something. That time has long since passed.

        • BuildBackBetter says:

          A few radical libertarians ignoring vaccines doesn’t mean they need to be given same importance as the scientific community who have worked hard to produce the vaccines.

          • illuminatus says:

            Omg, have you been in hibernation for the last 9 months or so? With all the data available now, that ‘scientific community’ is more likely to be prosecuted than recognised

          • Joe says:

            It’s not “ignoring vaccines” or being a radical libertarian to recognise that the vast majority of people have had covid at least once by now and so have a decent level of immunity coupled with a much milder disease (omicron). I was grateful to get the vaccine which massively reduced my chances of serious disease the first time round, but really now the fact I’ve been vaccinated makes little difference now I’ve had it (twice). This is just Biden being an authoritarian.

    • NorthernLass says:

      Why would anyone book a trip to the US while not meeting the entry requirements? One thing which has become apparent during the pandemic is just how long it takes the US to make changes – look how long we were actually banned from entering the country, full stop.
      Looks like you might be taking the grandkids away for a couple of weeks!

    • k says:

      The farce being that we were continually told the vax loses efficacy over the short to medium term (measured in months), hence most peoples vax status (especially those who have had two/three to date) will not be worth much in terms of future travels. The requirement was only ever a tick box exercise influenced by big Pharma.

      PS Chris, you should be impressed with your son’s principles.

  • Corey says:

    I’ve got a trip to New York next Friday – terrific news! Had already booked my Randox pre-departure antigen test, but it seems they offer a refund now for cancellations.

    Not sure if they did beforehand, but worth exploring so anyone else doesn’t lose the cost of it.

    • Sussex bantam says:

      Anyone seen anything about DocHQ refunding unused test appointments ? I can’t see anything on their website.

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