Groups representing the travel industry pressed White House to end the policy
Travel industry groups lauded the Biden administration’s June 10 announcement that the U.S. would no longer require inbound travelers to take a COVID-19 test to enter the country. The repeal takes effect at 12:01 a.m. June 12.
Associations representing the travel industry had pressed the White House for months to drop the mandate.
In a statement, U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow called the decision “another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States.”
“International inbound travel is vitally important to businesses and workers across the country who have struggled to regain losses from this valuable sector,” Dow said. “U.S. Travel and our partners advocated tirelessly for months to ensure this requirement would be lifted, pointing to the monumental scientific advancements that have made it possible for us to reach this point.”
In a recent survey, more than half of international travelers said the pre-departure testing rule deterred them from traveling to the U.S., according to U.S. Travel. Ending the mandate could bring an additional 5.4 million visitors to the U.S. and an additional $9 billion in travel spending through the end of the year, the group said.
Since October 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has required people returning to or visiting the U.S.—including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents—to show proof of a negative test to board U.S.-bound flights. In December, CDC shortened the testing window from three days to one day.
All air passengers 2 years or older departing from a foreign country have had to present a COVID-19 viral test result taken no more than one day before travel, or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the previous 90 days, before they board their flight, according to the CDC.
“Airlines must refuse to board anyone who does not present a negative test result for COVID-19 or documentation of recovery,” the CDC’s website says.
Airlines for America also said in a June 10 statement that it was pleased the pre-departure testing requirement had been eliminated.
“Lifting this policy will help encourage and restore air travel to the United States, benefiting communities across the country that rely heavily on travel and tourism to support their local economies,” A4A CEO Nicholas E. Calio said. “We are eager to welcome the millions of travelers who are ready to come to the U.S. for vacation, business and reunions with loved ones.”
In a statement from late May, A4A had said the policy hurt the U.S. economy and was not effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The end of pre-departure Covid testing will also be a boon for meetings and conventions, according to Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance’s Vice President for Government Affairs Tommy Goodwin.
“As the face-to-face business events industry continues to work tirelessly to bring back international exhibitors and attendees to our conferences and trade shows, this welcome news removes one of the key barriers to jumpstarting our industry’s recovery and getting people from across the country and around the world back to business at our U.S. events,” Goodwin said in a statement.
The U.S. has not required testing for land border crossings, Reuters reported. Many countries in Europe and elsewhere have already dropped testing requirements for flights into their countries, according to the news outlet. The CDC will do a reassessment of the decision in 90 days and reinstate the mandate if necessary, an official told Reuters.