Reminder: the US test requirements go into effect on Tuesday! That means if you plan on boarding a flight to the US on Monday, you must get a test. TOMORROW. Unlike the similar Hawaii model, though, there are no approved testing partners. Instead, you must obtain a specific type of test.
COVID-19 Testing Requirements
On January 12, 2021, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving from a foreign country to the US. This new order becomes effective on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. And, much like Hawaii’s pre-travel test requirements, all travelers two years of age or older need to get tested within 72 hours of their departure flight. For those connecting, this means 72 hours before your first flight, so long as you don’t have a layover exceeding 24 hours.
Valid tests under the orders include NAAT or antigen tests. However, your test results need to be verifiable too. This means that the results must be in the form of laboratory test results. What’s more, results have to include information that identifies the person, a specimen collection date, and the type of test taken. A negative test result must show the test was done within the 3 days before the flight. A positive test result must show the test was done within the 3 months before the flight. And, again, like Hawaii, you cannot substitute proof of vaccination in lieu of test results.
You must present all required documentation to your airline before boarding. If you fail to do so, the airline must deny your ability to board. Will airlines enforce these requirements in practice? We’ll see.
Yesterday, President Biden issued a slew of new executive orders. One of these orders requires all arriving international travelers in the US to quarantine for 10 days. Yes, that includes if you take a pre-travel test. How will this work? When will it go into effect? We don’t know yet. For now, relevant agencies are working to figure out exactly how the quarantine will work.
Though virtually all airlines in the US require masks while flying, the new executive order federally mandates masks for all inter-state travel. That includes at airports, on airplanes, trains, ferries, intercity buses, and public transportation. How the mandate gets enforced is still a discussion point, though.
Now, I know there are some out there asking what’s the point? Especially since the mandate is mostly redundant. But, the mandate serves to reinforce rules enacted by private companies like airlines. That’s especially useful for flight crews, which, at times, deal with belligerent passengers refusing to wear a mask. Now, the mandate is expected to make enforcement of these rules much easier.
US Test Requirements Go into Effect on Tuesday, Final Thoughts
Are the new testing requirements and upcoming quarantine efforts too little too late? Probably. However, I do think the new mask mandates are beneficial. Sure, they’re certainly are redundant. But, again, they help with the enforcement of existing rules. Especially since people think this is a political issue and not one that impacts, you know, health and safety.
That said, I’m interested in seeing how enforcement of these mandates go. Personally, though, I’ll continue to refrain from traveling for the time being.