The United States is now requiring all incoming international arrivals to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, as the country tries to combat the rapidly-spreading UK mutant strain. The new order, which applies to both US citizens and non-citizens, will take effect in two weeks, on 26th January.

Air passengers are required to get a viral test within the 3 days before their flight to the US departs; passengers must also provide written documentation of their laboratory test result to the airline, or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19.

Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers, or documentation of recovery, before they board. If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger.

“Testing does not eliminate all risk 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.”

Robert Redfield, Director, CDC

At least 72 cases of the UK variant have been found in 10 US states. While the testing requirement is not to prevent the UK mutant virus’ entry, it is, according to the CDC, aiming to help keep out an ever-growing list of variations on COVID-19. Such a requirement has received significant backing from US airlines, with industry group Airlines for America backing the implementation of “a global program to require testing”.

Similar testing regimes have already been imposed by Canada and Australia, in response to the UK variant, as well as by the UK to assist in stopping the widespread transmission of the South African variant.