The United States is making a significant change to its travel procedures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Reuters, the U.S. is saying goodbye to the 17-month-old requirement that people arriving in the country must test negative for the virus. The outlet notes it was one of the last remaining COVID-19 protocols in effect, with it acting as a barrier for many travelers afraid to travel abroad and become stuck.
European nations and other global destinations have already dropped testing requirements on entry, while the U.S. has played it somewhat safe by requiring a negative test within three days, tightening it to one day in December during a rise in cases. The CDC will re-evaluate the decision in 90 days.
The decision goes into effect on June 12 and represents one of the final major COVID protocols put in place for air travel. The CDC does still require non-U.S. citizens to be vaccinated against the virus to travel.
According to Reuters, the decision earned celebration from the air travel industry. JetBlue Chief Executive Robin Hayes spoke with the outlet and called it "the last obstacle to a really full international travel recovery." IATA, the airline trade group, called the decision "great news" and labeled the testing as "ineffective."
April saw the end of other staple COVID guidelines for travel after a CDC requirement to wear masks on airplanes and airports was deemed unlawful by a federal judge. The Justice Department did appeal that decision, but no decision is on the horizon while Biden's administration has not acted on the rule.
Despite the requirement being dropped, the CDC still recommends travelers mask up and get tested before traveling. Other countries have a varied set of rules to combat COVID, with many dropping them all together at this point. As The Verge points out, Canada and Spain still require tests for those who can't prove they've been vaccinated. Meanwhile, Japan bases its entrance decisions on the country the traveler is arriving from in the world. The only country to still face tight restrictions and testing is China, where the virus originated and where stringent lockdowns are still in place for some areas.