Headed to Mexico or the Caribbean for some sun and fun this winter or over spring break?Get ready to squeeze a COVID test into your pandemic vacati
Headed to Mexico or the Caribbean for some sun and fun this winter or over spring break?
Get ready to squeeze a COVID test into your pandemic vacation agenda.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday said it will require airline passengers to show proof of a negative COVID test or recovery from COVID before boarding an international flight to the U.S., effective Jan. 26. Airlines are required to deny boarding to those who don’t.
Currently, only travelers bound for the United States from the United Kingdom have to present a negative test, a requirement that has been in place only since Dec. 28.
International travel has been decimated by the pandemic, with most European countries off limits to Americans and U.S. restrictions keeping most international visitors away.
But a surge of pandemic vacationers has flocked to beach destinations that have reopened to tourists, including the Caribbean and Mexico. Some Caribbean destinations require proof of a negative COVID test to enter and have other restrictions, but Mexico does not.
The new requirement, which comes during a surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S., means international travelers face another layer of restrictions.
What international travelers need to know about CDC’s new COVID test rule
Q: Does the testing requirement apply to U.S. citizens?
A: Yes, it applies to all airline passengers ages 2 and older bound for the United States, including visitors, citizens and legal permanent residents.
Q: What kind of test do I need and when?
A: Travelers must get a viral test – antigen tests and nucleic acid amplification tests such as a PCR test qualify, but antibody tests don’t – within 72 hours of their departure and bring paper or electronic proof to the airport. Those who have tested positive for the virus within the past three months before travel can bypass the test requirement if they bring proof they have recovered from the virus and are cleared to travel by a licensed healthcare provider or health official.
Q: How can I prove I recovered from COVID?
A: Bring your positive test result and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official that says you have been cleared for travel, the CDC says.
Q: I’ve had a COVID-19 vaccine. Am I exempt?
Q: Who is going to enforce this?
A: Airlines. They are still working out the details but will ask for proof at check in. On flights from the U.K., for example, United Airlines asks for documentation in the ticket lobby. The CDC says passengers without negative test results or proof they have recovered from COVID will be denied boarding. Those who provide false information are subject to criminal fines and imprisonment, the agency said.
Q: How am I going to find a reputable place to get tested in a foreign country?
A: Look for guidance from airlines, hotels, tourism bureaus and healthcare providers in the coming weeks. Travelers to Hawaii have to provide a negative test to enter the state and bypass a mandatory quarantine, and airlines and tourism officials have provide extensive details on testing options.
Q: What if I take the test before my flight and I’m positive?
A: You will have an extended international vacation — in quarantine. At your own expense.
Q: How long will this requirement be in place?
A: No timeline was announced, but expect it to be in place as long as the virus is surging.