The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to all air passengers entering the United States. This is to address the spread of COVID-19 as well as to stop the spread of regional variants with potentially higher transmissibility rates. The order is in effect January 26, 2021.
The CDC order requires all air travelers to obtain a viral test within the three days before their flight departs and provide evidence of the test to their airline. Passengers who do not provide a test or have a positive test must be denied boarding by the airline It is important to note that the test can be a NAAST or PCR test or an antigen or “rapid test”. There are significant rules that must be followed for individuals who have previously had a positive test to document their recovery.
Air travelers must review their travel plans carefully to determine the availability of testing at their destination as well as the time it takes to receive results ahead of their travel. In many countries this could vary in availability and cost. Since antigen or rapid tests are acceptable it may be preferable to find this form of testing if available. Travelers should be prepared for potential delays to air travel as the new rules are implemented by the airlines. These rules do not affect visa availability or ESTA approval.
Finally, the CDC still recommends travelers to get tested again 3-5 days after arrival and stay home for 7 days post-travel, will help slow the spread of COVID-19 within US communities from travel-related infections.