US looking at COVID-19 testing mandate for domestic flights

Shutterstock / Nuno Andre

After the mandate for COVID-19 testing for international arrivals into the United States, the government is looking at expanding it to domestic flights. 

Beginning January 26, 2021, all passengers arriving in the US must present proof of a negative coronavirus test. In an effort to curb the number of COVID-19 infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said it is considering requiring testing for domestic flights too.

On January 26, 2021, Dr. Marty Cetron, the director for the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at CDC, said that the agency is considering domestic testing regulations. “Conversations that are ongoing and looking at what the types and locations of testing might be,” said Cetron.

“The bottom line message is this is really not a time for people to be engaging in discretionary travel, and that all travel should be postponed until we get a better handle on getting this virus under control and accelerate our vaccination strategies.”

Travel industry groups have expressed their concerns about the new testing requirements, citing that the high cost of tests will keep people from traveling. “That’s a substantial use of testing resources when air travel has already been shown to be safer than many routine activities,” said Tori Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for the U.S. Travel Association. 

While many countries around the world implemented mandatory testing rules for international air travel, the US has been less strict about it. However, on January 20, 2021, just after Joe Biden was inaugurated as the new president, he signed the order mandating masks in airports and airplanes. 

The mandatory international testing is expected to have the biggest impact on Mexico and destinations in the Caribbean, which remain popular among American tourists. Non-US nationals from Brazil, the United Kingdom, South Africa and the EU are still banned from entering the United States.


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