International travel is about to get a bit trickier for Americans. According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to issue an order today that will require all travelers to the U.S. to have a negative COVID-19 test to be permitted entry into the country, including U.S. citizens. The mandate would reportedly go into effect in two weeks, on Jan. 26, 2021.
While most countries around the world have similar requirements in place—most international travelers must show proof of a negative test taken within a brief window before their travels—the United States has never had a universal testing restriction for travelers crossing its borders. (Individual states, including New York and Hawaii, have set their own testing requirements.)
However, the U.S. has placed blanket bans on travelers from China, Iran, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Brazil. And currently, travelers from the U.K. who are exempt from the travel ban are required to provide negative test results for entry into the U.S. due to the new strain of coronavirus discovered there. That new strain, however, has already reached the U.S. and other countries.
Details about the testing requirements, such as the size of the testing window before travel, have not been revealed. It is also unclear whether or not the U.S. will lift the bans on travelers from restricted countries in favor of this new testing policy or whether a quarantine will also be required.
But regardless of the specifics, this move will likely restrict American travelers heading abroad, as it will likely be more difficult for them to return home—testing is limited in many countries, and turnaround times for results can be long.
There is, however, a big opportunity for the aviation industry here. Some airports and airlines already offer pre-flight testing, so with testing restrictions increasing, perhaps these programs will be implemented more widely, creating safer travels for all.