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72-hour advance testing requirement
Starting January 26, 2021, the CDC will require all passengers traveling to the US to get tested for Covid-19 no more than 72-hours before their flight departs and to provide proof of a negative test result to the airline before boarding a flight. This applies to foreign and US travelers abroad flying into the U.S.
This new policy applies to anyone 2 years of age and older traveling into the U.S. This policy does not apply to air travel between US states, nor US possessions or territories such as Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands.
The test must be a viral test (NAAT or antigen test). Also, if you had a positive viral test in the past 3 months and complied with criteria to remain in isolation, you can travel with documentation from your healthcare provider that you are clear for travel. A positive test result and letter from your doctor will be required by the airline as “documentation of recovery.”
The airlines will require a paper or electronic copy of test results to board and to be available to public health officers upon arrival in the US. Additional information from the CDC website is available here. Here is a link to the “Passenger Disclosure and Attestation to the United States of America.”
What if I’ve had the Covid-19 vaccine?
Even if you’ve had the Covid-19 vaccine you are still required to present a negative Covid-19 test result or “documentation of recovery.” A Covid-19 vaccination does not make you immune to Covid-19. You can still become infected and infect others. It is like the flu shot. The flu shot doesn’t prevent you from getting or spreading the flu, but it minimizes how sick you will become.
Concerns about available test availability around the world
Travel Weekly reported Vanessa Ledesma, acting CEO and director general of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, said the new requirements “present a tremendous challenge for most of the small countries and jurisdictions in the Caribbean… Most jurisdictions in the region presently lack the availability and access to the volume of testing equipment, support agents and lab facilities which would be required to conduct massive amounts of PCR tests within a very short turnaround time.”
American Airlines create app to simplify reporting
American Airlines is the first airline to create a smartphone app to facilitate reporting of negative Covid-19 tests and “documentation of recovery.” The VeriFLY app acts as a mobile passport and will be available January 23, 2021. The app can be downloaded for the iOS App Store or Google Play Store.