Jun 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

CDC to lift COVID test requirement for international air travelers

Travelers at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
Travelers at Chicago O'Hare International Airport on July 31, 2020. Photo: John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. will lift its requirement for air travelers to get a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country starting Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control announced on Friday.

Driving the news: The move goes into effect shortly after midnight on June 12, according to the CDC's statement.

  • The rule change is "based on the science and data" and the CDC will reassess its decision in 90 days, a senior Biden administration official told CNN, which first reported on the announcement Friday afternoon.

The big picture: The testing requirement has drawn criticism from the travel industry and business organizations, which have lobbied the Biden administration to ditch the mandate for vaccinated international passengers entering the U.S.

  • “Thank you to the administration for the announcement. This is another important step, not just for air travel, but also for all the tourism jobs that international travel supports," United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said in a statement after the announcement.
  • "CDC's determination is welcome news for travelers and for millions of American workers whose jobs are supported by international travel," U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement Friday, Reuters reported.
  • "Guided by the latest science and data available, the decision reflects a current reality shaped for the better by the hard work of public health professionals and the Administration to distribute effective vaccines and treatments. Over the next 48 hours and beyond, our department will assist to ensure a smooth transition for travelers and airlines alike."

Catch up quick: The testing requirement was first implemented in January 2021 and it has applied to all travelers, regardless of vaccination status.

  • The Transportation Security Administration in April stopped enforcing the Biden administration's rule mandating masks on planes, trains and other forms of public transportation after the mandate was struck down by a federal judge.

Go deeper: Over 260 travel, business groups urge White House to end COVID testing for U.S. entry

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details from the CDC, including a comment from United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg

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