US drops proof of negative Covid-19 test requirement for air travellers

The US will no longer require air travellers to have proof of a negative Covid-19 test before entering the country from abroad.

Officials said they were dropping the requirement due to the “tremendous progress” the country had made in the fight against the virus.

The travel industry has been pushing for an end to the policy, which they say has deterred bookings, as families fear getting stranded abroad.

The change comes into effect on Sunday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will re-evaluate the policy in 90 days. The administration said it would “not hesitate to act” to reinstate the rule should new variants make officials believe it is necessary.

“We are able to take this step because of the tremendous progress we’ve made in our fight against the virus: We have made lifesaving vaccines and treatments widely available and these tools are working to prevent serious illness and death, and are effective against the prevalent variants circulating in the US and around the world,” a senior official told reporters.

The US introduced rules requiring air travellers to test negative within three days of their flight – or provide proof of recent recovery from the virus – in January 2021.

US President Joe Biden tightened the policy to within one day of flying in December, as the Omicron variant pushed virus cases higher. The testing measure did not apply to land crossings.

Most non-US citizens must still be vaccinated to travel to the country.

The number of Covid cases in the US has dropped sharply since January, though the figures had started to rise again in recent weeks before plateauing. Deaths remain much lower than during the height of the pandemic because of the impact of the vaccination programme.

The travel sector, which has seen demand surge as concerns about the pandemic wane, has said the US has lagged behind other countries in re-evaluating testing policies.