The CDC will require all international travelers to test negative for the coronavirus before entering the US under a new order issued Tuesday.
The order, which takes effect Jan. 26, instructs air passengers to get a coronavirus test within three days before their departure date and provide documentation of their negative result or their recovery to their airline. If passengers cannot provide either, airlines must not allow them to board the plane, the CDC said.
The agency is also recommending that passengers get tested again three to five days into their visit and stay home for seven days after traveling.
“Testing does not eliminate all risk,” CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said in a statement announcing the order. “But when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations.”
Tuesday’s order comes weeks after the US enacted a similar requirement for people traveling from the United Kingdom due to concerns about a highly contagious version of COVID-19 identified by scientists there. Several states have since reported cases of the new variant, known as B.1.1.7, though it is unclear how widespread it is.
“With the US 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.