As from midnight on Sunday, international air travelers may be able to enter the United States without prior COVID-19 tests. This was revealed by a senior government official, who said President Joe Biden may make the announcement on Friday. The official said the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have agreed on the decision.
Top airline and tourism operators across the US had been pressing the government for months to call off the requirement for negative COVID-19 tests before entering the country. The lobbyists said the travel requirement is hurting the industry and is no longer necessary based on recent development.
In fact, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee, Dr. William Schaffner, said the requirement for international travelers to undergo COVID-19 tests is outdated and useless since the pandemic is already rife in the United States.
“I’ve been bemused about that for a long time because we’ve got plenty of Covid here! It’s not as though we’re trying to keep Covid out,” Schaffner stated. “It’s here already.”
Although the government has agreed to nullify the entry requirement for air travelers, the CDC said the decision will be reviewed again in 90 days and that the requirement may be reinstated if a new COVID-19 variant or any related health scare emerges.
Most travel operators agree that the requirement has impacted the industry negatively for too long, even when the travel industry is one of the largest revenue arms of the government. US Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said lifting the requirement will lead to faster economic recovery.
“Prior to the pandemic, travel was one of our nation’s largest industry exports,” Dow said. “The lifting of this requirement will enable the industry to lead the way toward a broader US economic and jobs recovery.”
Leading travel officials across the country met with White House officials in May to discuss the need to remove coronavirus test requirements for vaccinated travelers coming into the country via air. And Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto said the testing requirement is obsolete and should be trashed, adding that she will intensify efforts to “support the strong recovery of our hospitality industry.”