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Coronavirus

U.S. to drop COVID testing for incoming international air travelers

Biden administration set to announce move sought by airlines, travel industry

A sign for COVID-19 testing at LAX airport in Los Angeles: The U.S. will no longer require pre-departure tests for travelers coming to the country.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The Biden administration will drop pre-departure COVID-19 international air testing requirements effective Sunday at 12:01 a.m. after heavy lobbying from airlines and the travel industry, a senior administration official told Reuters.

The Biden administration will announce on Friday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will no longer require pre-departure COVID-19 testing for travelers coming to the United States after it determined based on the science and data that this requirement is no longer necessary. CDC will do a reassessment of this decision in 90 days, the official said.

Since December, the CDC has required travelers to test negative within one day before flights to the United States but does not require testing for land border crossings.

The official said, "If there is a need to reinstate a pre-departure testing requirement -- including due to a new, concerning variant -- CDC will not hesitate to act."

American Airlines AAL.O Chief Executive Robert Isom said last week at a conference that the testing requirements were "nonsensical" and were "depressing" leisure and business travel.

Airlines have said that many Americans are not traveling internationally because of concerns they will test positive and be stranded abroad.

Isom said 75% of countries American serves do not have testing requirements.

"We're really frustrated and this is something that is damaging not only U.S. travel but it just doesn't make sense," Isom said last week.

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