The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that anyone traveling into the USA via airplane must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test to their airline, citing the rise of new coronavirus strains around the world that appear to be more contagious.
"Testing does not eliminate all risk", the CDC director said in the agency's statement, "but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations".
Effective January 26, air passengers are required to get a test done within the three days before their flight to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline.
American health officials say that anyone flying to the United States will soon need to show proof of a negative test for COVID-19.
The order affects US citizens as well as foreign travelers.
The UK requirement went into effect last month and airlines can be subject to criminal penalties if they fail to comply.
Ireland has reported an increasing prevalence in the last three weeks of the new more transmissible COVID-19 variant first discovered in neighbouring Britain.
"[We are] writing to express our support for a [CDC] proposal to control the spread of COVID-19, including variants of the virus, by implementing a global program to require testing for travelers to the United States", the industry group Airlines for America wrote to Vice President Mike Pence on January 4.
In preparation for travel, passengers will need to find a testing provider which meets the standards set out on by the UK Government, the majority of which will be Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests.
All passengers coming into Ireland to require negative test result
Worldwide travel is banned under England's latest lockdown rules unless for "legally permitted reasons", government guidance states, for example work.
But the new order may stop or diminish spread of other new versions of the virus, like one recently identified in South Africa.
What are the new U.S. norms?
The move has the USA joining many other countries and even some states such as Alaska and Hawaii that require visitors be tested for the virus.
Guidance published by the department said travellers arriving before this deadline "are under no legal obligation to get a test before you travel".
What flights are operating from India to the United Kingdom and the US?
Others say the CDC order is unlikely to cause an immediate increase in worldwide travel.
He added that he does not expect air travel to increase until the summer, after more people have been vaccinated.
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