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US lifts covid testing requirement for international flyers

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International travelers traveling to the United States will no longer need to present proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding their flights to the United States, a senior Biden administration official said Friday, ending one of the country’s last pandemic-related travel requirements.

The requirement will end at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

The administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement, said science and data show the requirement is no longer needed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will reevaluate the decision in 90 days and reinstate the requirement if necessary, officials said.

In April, the Biden administration dropped its requirement that people wear masks on planes, buses and in other public transportation environments after a federal judge ruled the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had overstepped. their authority in setting the terms of reference. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of Florida’s ruling is being appealed.

Travel ban will end on November 8 for international visitors who present proof of vaccination, negative coronavirus test

When the administration dropped enforcement of the mask mandate, the travel industry hoped the administration would also drop the requirement that people traveling to the United States present proof of a negative coronavirus test before traveling. board their flights. Instead, it stayed put.

The United States began requiring proof of a negative test from all international travelers age 2 and older in January 2021. Federal health officials saw testing and masking as key strategies to stop the spread of the coronavirus, especially as new, more transmissible variants have emerged.

In November, as the Biden administration prepared to lift the ban on travelers from 33 countries — including China and more than two dozen European countries — it also began requiring non-US citizens to show proof of identity. proof of vaccination in addition to a negative test result.

The travel industry initially backed testing as a way to reopen the country, but in recent months has been increasingly vocal about the need to end it.

In a letter sent last month to Ashish Jha, the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, industry officials noted that many countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada, have not require more pre-departure testing for travelers who have been vaccinated. They also pointed out that the United States does not require proof of a negative test for those entering the country through land borders, although travelers who are not U.S. citizens must provide proof of vaccination.

“Given the slow economic recovery in the international business and travel sectors, and in light of medical advances and improving public health measures in the United States, we encourage you to immediately remove the testing requirement. entering for vaccinated air travelers,” industry officials wrote in the letter.

Groups of travelers recently met with White House officials to make their case.

Friday’s announcement drew praise from the travel industry, which has been campaigning for months to have all pandemic-related requirements lifted.

“Today marks another big step forward for the resumption of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States,” said Roger Dow, chief executive of the US Travel Association. “The Biden administration is to be commended for this action, which will once again welcome visitors from around the world and accelerate the recovery of the travel industry in the United States.

Nicholas E. Calio, general manager of the Airlines for America business group, also welcomed the announcement.

“Removing 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,” he said. in a press release.

Tyler Pager contributed to this report.