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Biden administration drops COVID testing requirement for international travelers

The Biden administration will drop the Covid-19 testing requirement for inbound air travelers from abroad on Sunday.

The rule, which was put in place by the Trump administration in early 2021 and later tightened by the Biden administration, most recently required inbound travelers, including U.S. citizens, to show proof of a negative Covid test a day before boarding U.S.-bound flights. Travelers entering the U.S. at land border crossings were exempt.

The decision came, according to the official, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined based on science that the requirement is no longer necessary. The decision will be reassessed in 90 days and the health agency plans to evaluate it on an ongoing basis.

If it becomes necessary to reinstate the pre-departure test requirement (in case of new, concerning variants, for example), the official continued, the CDC will plan to do so.

A number of other countries, including the United Kingdom, have already dropped pre-departure testing requirements for fully vaccinated visitors.

Airline and tourism groups have been pressing the administration for months, pushing to eliminate the testing requirement, saying it is discouraging people from booking international trips. Many other countries have lifted their testing requirements for fully vaccinated and boosted travelers in a bit to increase tourism.

In February, the groups argued the testing requirement was obsolete because of the high number of omicron cases already in every state, higher vaccinations rates and new treatments for the virus.

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement that Friday’s news “marks another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States.”

“The Biden administration is to be commended for this action, which will welcome back visitors from around the world and accelerate the recovery of the U.S. travel industry,” Dow continued.

Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas Calio said in a statement that the organization is pleased with the decision. “The airline industry appreciates the Administration’s decision to lift the pre-departure testing requirement in accordance with the current epidemiological environment,” Calio said.

“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. 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.”

Members of the cruise industry also welcomed the news. Gus Antorcha, the president of Holland America Line, said in a statement that the move is a “step forward in the return to all global travel, including cruising.”

John Padgett, president of Princess Cruises, said the same. “This is a tremendous development that allows our guests to travel more easily and without stress throughout Europe as well as experience our Alaskan cruises that conclude in a Canadian port,” said Padgett.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH 

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: CNBC

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