Travel to the US: latest Covid rules as travel tests to be scrapped - THE TELEGRAPH
The US will finally remove its requirement for international arrivals to show proof of a recent negative Covid test, according to a government official.
The Biden administration is set to announce today that tests will no longer be a condition of entry from 12.01am on Sunday, June 12. Currently, all visitors, including children aged two or older, must show evidence of a negative test (either PCR or rapid antigen) taken no earlier than the calendar day before boarding their flight.
However, the official said that the decision to remove testing will be reassessed in 90 days. "If there is a need to reinstate a pre-departure testing requirement – including due to a new, concerning variant – the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) will not hesitate to act."
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Note that proof of full vaccination will still be required, with non-vaccinated travellers only permitted to visit in exceptional circumstances.
Happily, visitors are free to travel around the US as they did before the pandemic, and federal mask mandates have been removed.
Can I travel to the US?
Currently, British citizens must show evidence of both Covid vaccination and a negative test. However, the requirement to take a test is set to be scrapped from June 12.
The US authorities will accept any Covid-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organisation or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These are the AstraZeneca, BIBP/Sinopharm, Covishield, Janssen, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac vaccines. More details are on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and US Embassy websites.
Until June 12, before boarding a flight to the US, passengers are required to show a negative test result taken no more than one day before travel (if your flight is on June 1, for example, the test should have been taken at any time on May 31 or June 1). All air passengers to the USA are also required to provide contact information to their airlines before boarding. You should check with your airline before you travel for more details. Full requirements for pre-travel testing can be found on the CDC website.
Do not forget, also, the pre-existing requirement to get a visa or Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver to enter or transit the USA as a visitor. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need.
What are the rules for children?
Children 17 and under are exempt from the vaccination requirement. Children under two do not need to take a pre-departure test.
Are flights operating?
While all the scheduled airlines offering flights to and from the USA have resumed services since last November, not all destinations have been restored. It seems likely the volume of seats will not return to pre-pandemic levels until early 2023, meaning prices may well be higher for a while.
Do I need to wear a mask?
The Biden administration no longer enforces a mask mandate on public transportation, including planes, trains and taxis, after a federal judge in Florida ruled that the 14-month-old directive was unlawful.
Soon after the announcement, all major carriers including American Airlines (AAL.O), United Airlines (UAL.O) and Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), as well as national train line Amtrak, relaxed the restrictions effective immediately.
Individual states and counties reserve the right to require face coverings, but nearly all US jurisdictions have now scrapped their mask mandates in both indoor and outdoor settings (with the exception of healthcare settings), in favour of recommendations.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) publishes a handy online state-by-state-guide with more details.
What about Covid passports?
While a handful of states – notably New York and California – have sought to ban unvaccinated citizens from bars and restaurants, Covid passports have now been scrapped, even in these stricter jurisdictions.
Shall I take cash or pay for everything on a card?
If there is one thing the pandemic has advanced the cause of, it is cashless, and even touchless, payment systems. This makes it more important than ever to be able to pay on a credit or debit card.
Using your phone to pre-order and pay for food and other items in restaurants is now one of the biggest trends in US retail, and it is almost certainly here to stay, virus or no virus.