US will require negative COVID-19 tests for international travelers

The CDC order goes into effect on Jan. 26.

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2 min read

International travelers coming to the US will have to obtain a negative COVID-19 test before boarding.

Kent German/CNET

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved a measure Tuesday that will require all international air travelers to obtain a negative COVID-19 test before flying to the states. The order goes into effect Jan. 26. 

"Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19," the CDC said in a statement. "This strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans."

All passengers entering the US will need to get negative test results within three days before flying, or provide documentation to the airline that they've recovered from COVID-19. If passengers don't provide this, they won't be able to board.  

"Testing does not eliminate all risk," CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said in a statement, "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." 

The measure comes as more-contagious coronavirus strains are cropping up around in the world in places like the UK and the US. Meanwhile, vaccination efforts are ongoing as the US struggles to battle a surge in COVID-19 cases. The US currently has two approved COVID-19 vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer, that are being administered across the country. Experts say it's critical to continue wearing a mask and to practice social distancing until enough Americans get vaccinated, which is still several months away.

See also: COVID-19 vaccine card is not an immunity passport. Here's the difference

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