All air passengers arriving in the United States will be required to provide evidence of a negative pre-departure test for coronavirus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed.
The requirement will come into effect from 26 January, with the CDC also recommending arrivals isolate for seven days leaving only to seek an additional test after three to five days.
Pre-travel tests can be taken up to 72 hours prior to departure, with airlines tasked with certifying passengers’ negative Covid status prior to boarding.
"Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of Covid-19," said the CDC.
"This strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans."
The CDC said the move reflected the emergence of several more transmissible strains of Covid-19 around the world.
“Testing does not eliminate all risk,” said CDC director Robert Redfield.
“But when combined with a period of staying at home and every day 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.”
The move has been welcomed by the US Travel Association.
“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," said the association’s executive vice-president of public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes.
“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.
“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.”