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Many travelers in the United States and abroad have been waiting for it. The travel industry has been pushing for it. And on Sunday an end arrives to the requirement for travelers to test negative for Covid-19 before entering the US.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited a “new phase” of the pandemic in a statement confirming the rule change.
“Widespread uptake of highly effective Covid-19 vaccines, the availability of effective therapeutics, and the accrual of high rates of vaccine- and infection-induced immunity at the population level in the United States” have all helped lower the risk of severe disease and death, the agency said.
Navigating ever-shifting entry requirements across the globe has been a source of great confusion for travelers everywhere.
Here’s what we know about how the new policy will impact US arrivals:
When will the pre-travel testing requirement be lifted?
The requirement ends on Sunday, June 12, at 12:01 a.m. ET.
That means flights departing to the US from a foreign country at or after that time no longer have to present a negative test result or documentation of recovery in the past 90 days from Covid-19.
Departures before that time will require testing.
Is the decision final?
Like many measures targeting Covid-19, the rules are subject to change.
“CDC continues to evaluate the latest science and state of the pandemic and will reassess the need for a testing requirement if the situation changes,” the agency said in a statement.
Do foreign arrivals to the US still need to be vaccinated?
Yes. The vaccination requirement for foreign arrivals has not changed.
Travelers 18 and older who are not US citizens, US nationals, legal permanent residents or immigrants must be fully vaccinated to travel to the US, with limited exceptions.
Children 17 and under are not required to be vaccinated.
What about unvaccinated Americans?
The end of the testing requirement applies to all travelers previously required to present negative test results, and vaccination requirements to enter the United States do not apply to US citizens.
What is the CDC’s recommendation for travel?
“CDC continues to recommend that those travelers boarding a flight to the U.S. get tested for current infection with a viral test as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than 3 days) and not travel if they are sick,” the agency said in statement.
The CDC also recommends that travelers remain up to date on vaccinations and test for infection after travel and after any known exposure to someone with Covid-19.
Wearing masks in indoor public transportation settings is still recommended. Masks are no longer required.
Are land border and ferry port arrivals affected by the rule change?
No. The rule change applies to air travel.
Covid-19 testing has not been required for entry via a land or ferry port. Non-US travelers 18 and older must be fully vaccinated to enter the US.
What does Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN medical analyst, say about it?
There were good reasons to have the testing requirements at other points during the pandemic, CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen said, but those reasons no longer apply.
“Having the testing requirement is not doing much, if anything, to keep the coronavirus out of the US, and instead is creating a major barrier to people who wish to travel abroad and return,” Wen said via email.
“Of course, if people have symptoms or exposure while traveling, they need to get tested, and if they test positive, to follow CDC’s isolation guidelines.”
CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.
Top image: Madrid-Barajas Airport (Emilio Parra Doiztua/Bloomberg/Getty Images)