Africa tourism

US lifts COVID-19 testing requirement for international travel, could boost tourism – Orlando Sentinel

The Biden administration is lifting its requirement that international air travelers to the United States take a COVID-19 test within a day before boarding their flights, easing one of the last remaining government mandates meant to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

A senior administration official said the warrant expires at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Sunday, saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined it is no longer needed. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity on Friday to preview the official announcement, said the agency would reassess the need for the testing requirement every 90 days and could be reinstated if a troubling new variant emerges.

The move to the White House comes just days after Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings joined 32 other mayors from Florida and U.S. cities who called for the cancellation. of the negative COVID-19 test requirement. They said the requirement has put a damper on the rebound in tourism by creating a barrier for international travel.

“This requirement makes little sense given that nearly every other sector of the U.S. economy operates without a testing requirement,” the mayors’ letter read. “Stronger immunity provided by vaccinations, booster shots, and previous infections, along with effective treatments to prevent the worst outcomes of COVID-19, have allowed Americans to return safely to work, schools, and public activities – all without the need for a test requirement. ”

Dyer on Friday credited the White House with listening to local officials.

“Certainly as people make travel decisions, certain things like having this negative test affect their thinking,” Dyer said. “If we have another outbreak, we can always take a look at it.”

He added: “Domestic [travel] came back much faster than international, but international travelers stay longer and spend more money.

The Biden administration has implemented the test requirement last year as it moved away from restrictions that banned non-essential travel from several dozen countries – most of Europe, China, Brazil, South Africa, India and Iran – and focused instead on classifying individuals based on the risk they pose to others. This was accompanied by a requirement that nonimmigrant foreign adults traveling to the United States be fully immunized, with some exceptions.

The original mandate allowed those who were fully vaccinated to show proof of a negative test within three days of travel, while unvaccinated people had to show a test taken within a day of travel.

In November, as the highly transmissible omicron variant swept the world, the Biden administration has toughened the requirement and required all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to test within a day of traveling to the United States

Airlines and tour groups have been lobbying the administration for months, pushing to scrap the testing requirement, saying it discourages people from booking international travel. Many other countries have lifted their testing requirements for fully vaccinated and beefed up travelers a bit to increase tourism.

In February, the groups argued that the testing requirement was outdated due to the high number of omicron cases already in every state, higher vaccination rates and new treatments for the virus.

Sentinel writer Ryan Gillespie contributed to this report.