- The United States will require a negative Covid test report within 72 hours of departure
- Officials said the order will be signed on Friday and take effect on Monday
- The decision follows the emergence of a new highly infectious variant of the virus in the UK
The U.S. government will require all airline passengers arriving from the UK to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure starting Monday, amid concerns about a new coronavirus variant that may be more transmissible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement that all airline passengers arriving from the UK must test negative in order to fly to the United States. The decision was a turnaround after the Trump administration told US airlines on Tuesday that it did not plan to require any tests for passengers arriving in the UK.
The decision follows the emergence of a highly contagious new coronavirus variant in Britain that has prompted many countries to close borders to travelers from there.
The British Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Thursday evening.
On Thursday, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines said they required all passengers on flights from the UK to the US to submit a negative COVID-19 test carried out within 72 hours of departure.
The CDC said late Thursday that passengers must test negative via a PCR or antigen test. The CDC said “viruses are constantly changing through mutation and a preliminary analysis in the UK suggests this new variant may be up to 70% more transmissible than previously circulating variants.”
The CDC noted that in March, President Donald Trump suspended the entry of nearly all foreign nationals who had visited the UK in the past 14 days, which cut air travel to the US from Britain by about 90%.
Under the new policy, passengers traveling from the UK to the US must provide the airline with written documentation of the lab test result (in paper or electronic format), the CDC said. Airlines must confirm negative test results for all passengers prior to boarding. If passengers choose not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding.
The CDC said the order will be signed on Friday and take effect on Monday.
Delta’s policy, expanded by its decision on Monday to require screening on UK flights to New York’s JFK Airport, will go into effect on December 24, while United’s obligation begins on December 28.
On Monday, the three airlines flying from London to JFK Delta, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic agreed to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s request to screen passengers from Britain.
US airlines have already drastically scaled down flights to the UK, as well as the rest of Europe.
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