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CDC Requiring Negative COVID Test for Entry

The CDC announced that starting January 26, 2021 they would require a negative COVID-19 test three (3) days prior to travel for international travelers flying into the United States. While the requirement had been in place since December for residents of the United Kingdom, the new measure raises more questions for travelers.

As someone who has been watching the cruise industry closely it makes me wonder what the new requirements will mean for the travel industry as a whole. The cruise industry has been halted since early 2020 with no real idea of when cruise travel will resume in the States. Cruising has come back to Singapore and some parts of Europe since the initial shut down, although only Singapore sailings are currently departing. Do the new requirements mean that it will be even longer than we expected for cruise travel to return, probably, but I will keep you updated.

It seems the CDC is rightly trying to prevent the new strain of the virus from hitting the States, but as of writing it has already arrived in at least 4 states.

"Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, and there is evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants...with the U.S. already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the American public," the CDC said in a statement.

What you should know:

  • You are required to have a negative COVID-19 test three days prior to your flight's departure time.

  • CDC does not recommend getting tested again in the three months after a positive viral test, as long as you do not have symptoms of COVID-19. If you have had a positive viral test in the past 3 months, and you have met the criteria to end isolation, you may travel instead with documentation of your positive viral test results and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official that states you have been cleared for travel. The positive test result and letter together are referred to as “documentation of recovery.”

  • The airlines will be the ones enforcing these policies, and most airlines have been in support of the new measure.

  • Make sure to be tested with a viral test (NAAT or antigen test) to determine if you are currently infected with COVID-19. Also make sure that you receive your results before your flight departs and have documentation of your results to show the airline.

  • You will be denied boarding if you do not have a negative COVID result. If you test positive you will be required to quarantine and recover prior to rebooking a flight.

  • Be sure to continue to wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, and social distance while traveling.

  • If you've had a COVID-19 vaccine you will STILL need to get tested prior to travel.

For more frequently asked questions and answers visit the CDC site.

Of course, I think this is a great decision, and one that should have been required months ago, but when speaking with a friend she mentioned it was a deterrent for her to travel in the near future (which is likely a welcome consequence for the CDC).

What are your thoughts? Will you still travel internationally or sit at home to wait the virus out?

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