The New U.S. Rules for International Travel During Coronavirus, Explained

A consistent testing rule for passengers entering the U.S. will soon be in place

new travel rules for travelers entering U.S.
There's a new requirement for passengers entering the U.S. starting Jan. 26
DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images

Those quick trips to Mexico during the pandemic are about to get more difficult, and for good reason.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week new travel COVID-19 regulations for all passengers entering the United States — including Americans returning from abroad. This comes as a new strain of the coronavirus have caused infection numbers to surge.

As the CDC explains, travelers must get a viral test (this includes the rapid antigen test) within three days before their flight to the U.S. departs and provide written or electronic documentation of their lab result to the airline. Alternatively, they could also provide documentation on having recovered from COVID-19.

While not a requirement, the CDC also recommends a test three days after arrival and for passengers post-return to stay at home for seven days. “Testing does not eliminate all risk,” says CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, “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.”

The order will go into effect on January 26. As the travel site One Mile at a Time points out, this is the first consistent testing protocol in the U.S. for passengers since the pandemic began; the publication also suggests that this might foretell the end of country-specific travel bans.


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