When will it end? White House says no plans to ditch international testing requirements

Apr 5, 2022

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Editor’s note: This post was updated with additional clarity on mask requirements.


 

The White House today, April 5, 2022, said there are no immediate plans to lift the COVID-19 testing requirement for inbound international travelers. In a press briefing, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients says, “No, there are no plans to change the international travel requirements at this point.”

Paddle Your Own Kanoo was the first to notice the news from Zients.

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It is interesting timing for the comments since the mask mandate is slated to expire on April 18, and since Zients is leaving his post later this month. Dr. Ashish K. Jha is set to replace him as COVID-19 advisor sometime in April.

The mask mandate was set to expire in January but has been extended for three months and could be extended once more. Many travel groups are actively campaigning for an end to the mask mandate. The requirement for testing has also been seen by many in the travel space as onerous.

Last month, U.S. airlines asked President Biden to drop the mask mandate and the requirement for testing, but so far the White House isn’t budging.

“With the Ba.2 COVID-19 variant on the upswing in Europe and in the U.S., I understand why there may be hesitancy to drop the testing requirement now,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research, “However once again, the U.S. is lagging behind some of our European friends in how they approach COVID-19 and travel.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rules, “you will need to get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status or citizenship) no more than one day before you travel by air into the United States. You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight.”

Related: Travel industry groups urge White House to temporarily drop predeparture test for vaccinated flyers

Harteveldt said America is late to the party, “… many European countries … have dropped their COVID-19 testing requirements for international visitors including for Americans, but the U.S. is keeping the testing requirements. It not only risks reducing the appeal of the U.S. to international visitors but could reduce Americans’ interest in traveling abroad as well.”

Related: International travel with no restrictions: A country-by-country guide to where you can travel with no COVID-19 test required

“From my perspective, I think if the U.S. dropped the testing requirement… it would be reasonable,” said Harteveldt, who continued, “And I’m sure the U.S. travel industry including airlines, hotel groups destination marketing organizations and others are eagerly hoping the U.S. will reconsider its testing requirement for inbound travelers from abroad.”

Featured image by Stefan Cristian Cioata/Getty.

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