US Now Requires Negative COVID-19 Test for Travelers From UK
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an order requiring all air travelers arriving to the United States from the United Kingdom to test negative for the coronavirus within three days of their trip. The order was signed Friday and went into effect Monday, December 28, 2020.
The latest travel restriction is an effort to mitigate the potential spread of a new variant of the coronavirus that has been found in the U.K.. The new variant spreads much faster, but there is no indication that it might be deadlier than the current strain.
Under the new CDC order, travelers must provide written documentation of their lab test result either in hard copy or electronic form. Airlines must deny boarding to passengers who choose not to get tested.
Requirements for Airlines
Any airline operating aircraft with passengers arriving into the U.S. from the U.K. must meet the following requirements for each passenger on board:
- Verify that each passenger has attested to having received a negative Qualifying Test result. Airlines must retain a copy of each passenger attestation for two years.
- Confirm that each passenger aged 2 years or older has documentation of a negative Qualifying Test result.
- Not board any passenger without verifying the attestation and confirming the documentation as set forth in Items 1 and 2 above.
Any airline that fails to comply with the “Requirements for Airlines” may be subject to criminal penalties, including substantial fines and imprisonment.
Requirements for Passengers
The CDC order says that any passenger departing the U.K. with a final destination in the U.S. shall:
- Provide an attestation to the CDC, through the airline, of having received a negative Qualifying Test result. A parent or legal guardian must attest on behalf of a passenger aged 2 to 17 years. An authorized individual may attest on behalf of any passenger who is unable to attest on their own behalf (e.g., by reason of physical or mental impairment).
- Retain a copy of the negative Qualifying Test result in their possession and present it for inspection to the airline and upon request by agent of the U.S. government or a cooperating state or local public health authority.
Any passenger who fails to comply with the “Requirements for Passengers” may be subject to criminal penalties, including substantial fines and imprisonment.
There are two exemptions to the rule. Airline crew members don’t have to show proof of negative test, provided that they follow industry standard protocols for the prevention of COVID-19 as set forth in relevant Safety Alerts for Operators (SAFOs) issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Passengers who originate on flights outside of the U.K. but connect through an airport in the U.K. on a transit flight with a connection time of no more than 24 hours are also exempt.