The U.S. Might Require COVID-19 Tests for Domestic Air Travel

They're already mandatory for passengers on incoming international flights

Biden Administration Reinstates COVID Travel Ban For Non-US Residents
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Throughout the course of the pandemic, domestic air travel in the United States has remained relatively unhindered by COVID-19 restrictions. Members of the general public have been free to fly about the country, so long as they wore a mask on the plane. But that might soon change. President Joe Biden's administration is considering requiring all passengers on domestic flights to have a negative COVID-19 test to fly.

Reuters reports that, when asked about testing requirements for domestic flights, Dr. Marty Cetron, director for the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on a phone call, that there were “conversations that are ongoing and looking at what the types and locations of testing might be... We’re actively looking at it.”

If testing requirements become mandatory, they would likely match the international restrictions that went into effect January 26, 2021. Currently, all travelers arriving in the U.S. on international flights must have a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure. Travelers and airlines were given two weeks' notice before that rule was enacted.

President Biden has been taking a far more aggressive approach to preventing the coronavirus spread than the previous administration; he's also mandated mask usage on all public transportation during interstate travel. Requiring COVID-19 tests for domestic air travel would certainly be on-brand for the newly inaugurated president.

However, it is important to remember that testing isn't foolproof, meaning you still should take precautions if you travel. "Testing does not eliminate all risk," CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said in a statement last week. “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.”

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