U.S. expected to end COVID-19 testing requirements for air travelers

Photo (c) Paul Biris - Getty Images

The travel industry says lifting the requirement could generate $9 billion in travel spending

The last hurdle for international travelers entering the United States is on the verge of being removed. CNN reports that the Biden White House is expected to announce sometime Friday that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will lift its mandate that air travelers flying into the U.S. must test negative for COVID-19 before entering the country.

If all goes accordingly, the requirement will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, June 12.

CNN cited an anonymous CDC official who said the agency would continue to evaluate the situation every 90 days. If a new variant emerges and causes concern, the mandate could be reinstated at a later date.

Travel groups celebrate the move

Travel groups have been begging the White House to lift some COVID-19 test requirements for vaccinated passengers since February, and research backs up those pleas. A recent study from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health concluded that being on an airplane is as safe – if not safer – than shopping at a grocery store or going to a restaurant.

Relief won’t just be felt by travelers; the travel industry stated that repealing pre-departure testing requirements could bring an additional 5.4 million visitors to the U.S. and an additional $9 billion in travel spending through the remainder of 2022.

“Today marks another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement sent to ConsumerAffairs. “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.”

“International inbound travel is vitally important to businesses and workers across the country who have struggled to regain losses from this valuable sector. More than half of international travelers in a recent survey pointed to the pre-departure testing requirement as a major deterrent for inbound travel to the U.S.”​​

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