The Biden administration is set to announce Friday (June 10) that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will drop its requirement for air travellers to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the country, according to a senior administration official that spoke to CNN.
The eased policy, which was first reported by CNN, will kick in for U.S.-bound air travellers at midnight on Sunday (June 12), the report claims.
The Biden administration has faced intense pressure in recent weeks to drop pre-arrival testing – a pandemic-era policy that ended in Canada for fully vaccinated travellers on April 1.
The report says the CDC has determined that it was no longer necessary – “based on the science and data” – to keep the U.S. rule in place.
The CDC is to reassess its decision in 90 days and if officials decide they need to reinstate it, because of a new COVID-19 variant, for example, it will do so.
The U.S. first introduced pre-arrival testing in January 2021 and the Biden administration reportedly intends to work with airlines to ensure a smooth transition.
The move comes after the U.S. Commerce Department, earlier this week, unveiled a new strategy aimed at accelerating international tourism by streamlining the country’s entry process and promoting more diverse destinations.
The new "National Travel and Tourism Strategy" sets a goal of 90 million international visitors by 2027 who will spend an estimated US$279 billion annually, topping pre-pandemic levels.
The dropping of pre-arrival testing will, however, come as welcome news to both U.S.-bound travellers and travel industry professionals.
Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, has long called on the White House to drop pre-travel testing rules.
“More than 40 nations have safely removed their pre-departure testing requirement and a recent survey found that 54 per cent of international travellers were less likely to visit the U.S. with the requirement still in place,” Dow said in a statement earlier this week. “Average wait times for visa appointments have also soared to more than a year in some of our top source markets, which prevents millions of people from visiting.”
This is a developing story.