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U.S. drops Covid testing requirement for international travelers

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A person checks in at a Covid-19 testing site within the international arrivals area of Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California on December 22, 2021.

Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

The Biden administration will drop Covid-19 testing requirement for inbound air travelers from abroad on Sunday, ending one in every of the longest-running travel restrictions of the pandemic.

The rule, put in place by the Trump administration in early 2021 and later tightened by the Biden administration, most recently required inbound travelers, including U.S. residents, to point out proof of a negative Covid test a day before boarding U.S.-bound flights. Travelers entering the U.S. at land border crossings were exempt.

The change takes effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Airlines and others within the travel industry had repeatedly pushed the administration to drop the requirement, arguing it was hurting demand for international trips. The travel industry has been one in every of the toughest hit by the pandemic.

American Airlines CEO Robert Isom told an industry conference last week that he met with politicians in Washington, D.C., to debate the testing requirement, a rule he called “nonsensical.”

“We’re really frustrated,” he said.

Other countries, including the U.K., had previously abandoned Covid testing entry rules.

“The Biden administration is to be commended for this motion, which can welcome back visitors from around the globe and speed up the recovery of the U.S. travel industry,” Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association said in an announcement. “International inbound travel is vitally essential to businesses and staff across the country who’ve struggled to regain losses from this precious sector.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will reassess the choice in 90 days, in keeping with a senior Biden administration official.

“If there may be a must reinstate a pre-departure testing requirement — including as a consequence of a latest, concerning variant — CDC is not going to hesitate to act,” the official said.

The travel industry clashed with each the Biden and Trump administrations throughout the pandemic over rules aimed toward curbing the spread of Covid-19, including a strict ban on most foreign visitors into the U.S., which was eventually lifted in November. Most noncitizen visitors to the U.S. will still have to point out proof of Covid-19 vaccination before flying to the U.S., a White House spokesman said.

Individually, in April, a Trump-appointed federal judge struck down one other contentious rule that aimed to curb the spread of Covid-19: the Biden administration’s federal mandate that travelers wear masks on planes and other types of public transportation.

— CNBC’s Thomas Franck contributed to this text.

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