Travelers from China No Longer Required to Undergo Mandatory COVID-19 Testing in the US
The United States has announced that it will be lifting mandatory COVID testing for travelers from China as cases continue to drop. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that it plans to scrap the requirement, which was initially implemented in January of this year. The move follows similar actions taken by other countries in recent weeks.
Background: Testing Requirement for Travelers from China
The US implemented the testing requirement earlier this year in response to a fresh wave of COVID cases in China. The goal was to protect US citizens and communities by identifying the size of the surge and gaining better insights into the variants that were circulating.
Testing Requirement to be Discontinued
Now, with cases in China declining, the CDC has announced that the testing requirement will be discontinued. The agency will continue to monitor cases in China and globally, and will maintain its genomic sequencing program at select airports.
Joining Other Nations in Lifting Requirements
Several countries have eased or eliminated COVID-related requirements for passengers from China, including the United States. According to Reuters, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans to eliminate mandatory COVID testing for travelers from China to enter the country, as the number of cases in China has decreased over the last few weeks. The US reintroduced testing for travelers from China in January, following a new wave of COVID in the country. Other countries have also relaxed their testing requirements, with Japan no longer conducting blanket testing for travelers from mainland China, and India dropping its requirement for all passengers from China, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, and Japan to produce a negative test before departure. In addition, the EU countries have decided to eliminate COVID-related requirements for passengers from China in phases. Health experts from the member states have determined to end the need for negative pre-departure COVID tests by the end of February, followed by eliminating random testing of travelers from China by mid-March.
Airline Industry Responds & Looking Ahead
As China sees a decrease in COVID-19 cases, airlines worldwide are eager to restore flights to the country. Emirates, for instance, announced in January that it would increase its weekly flight operations to China as the country began to lift travel restrictions. Similarly, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have also announced their return to mainland China, with Virgin reopening its London (LHR)-Shanghai (PVG) route from May 1st, and British Airways set to reopen its LHR-PVG route on April 23rd, and plans to relaunch its LHR to Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) services in June. Japan Airlines is also looking to carry more Chinese tourists in 2023, according to Yasuyuki Sato, Executive Officer and China Chief.
The decision by the US to lift mandatory COVID testing for travelers from China is a promising sign that the pandemic is gradually coming to an end. With countries around the world easing travel restrictions, the aviation industry is poised for a much-needed rebound. As we move forward, it’s crucial to continue monitoring the situation and taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved.
Also, you may be interested in reading: IATA Recommends mandatory face-coverings for passengers and masks for crew.