- The Biden administration is considering mandatory COVID-19 testing before domestic air travel.
- CDC officials confirmed to reporters that conversations are ongoing about pre-flight testing for domestic routes, and the CDC is “actively looking” at mandatory testing.
- New CDC rules went into effect on Tuesday concerning international air travel. All incoming travelers aged 2 or older need to present a negative test taken within three days of travel or proof of COVID-19 recovery.
From his first day in office, President Biden issued several orders to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, including mandatory face mask use on federal property, COVID-19 testing for international travel, and travel bans for various regions of the world where the virus is surging. At the same time, Biden announced plans to ramp up vaccinations, aiming for at least 1 million vaccinations per day. The administration is also considering other measures that can reduce the spread of COVID-19 in America, including mandatory COVID-19 testing on domestic flights.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the discussions about mandatory testing for domestic travelers during a call with reporters. When asked about the matter, Dr. Marty Cetron replied there are “conversations that are ongoing and looking at what the types and locations of testing might be… We’re actively looking at it.” Cetron is the director for the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at CDC.
According to Reuters, President Biden directed US agencies last week to make recommendations to “impose additional public health measures for domestic travel” and to consider new requirements for travelers crossing land borders. The administration was looking at requiring negative COVID-19 testing before domestic flights as of last Friday.
“We realize that there’s been a dramatic evolution and increase in both testing platforms and testing capacity. I think this is a really important part of our toolkit to combat this pandemic,” Cetron added.
The CDC has spoken to airlines about the plan. Some airline officials worry that the additional requirements could further reduce the demand for air travel, which has already been significantly impacted by the pandemic. There’s no timeline available for an order that would require negative tests from travelers looking to fly domestically.
As of Tuesday, the CDC’s new testing rule for international travelers is in effect. People aged 2 or older will need to present a negative coronavirus test taken within three calendar days of travel, or proof of COVID-19 recovery, in order to enter the country. The agency said it would not grant waivers to travelers coming in from nations with reduced testing capacity.
The Biden administration will not impose federal quarantine orders for people returning from a trip abroad, but the CDC recommends self-quarantine of seven days after returning from a trip. The “main message to U.S. citizens considering travel abroad remains the same: Seriously reconsider going overseas right now. If you’re overseas right now, it’s going to be harder to come home for a while,” Acting Assistant Secretary of State Ian Brownlee told reporters.