On Thursday, President Donald Trump took a step to protect the health of the American people by requiring air passengers arriving from the United Kingdom to test negative, via PCR or antigen test, no more than 72 hours before departure from the U.K. to the United States.
The CDC said, “The public health authorities in the U.K. recently announced the discovery of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2. Viruses constantly change through mutation, and preliminary analysis in the U.K. suggests that this new variant may be up to 70% more transmissible than previously circulating variants.”
On March 14, Trump issued a presidential proclamation to suspend the entry of foreign nationals who visited the U.K. in the past 14 days. This has reduced air travel to the U.S. from the U.K. by about 90%. The CDC said, “This additional testing requirement will fortify our protection of the American public to improve their health and safety and ensure responsible international travel.”
“The order is consistent with existing CDC testing guidance plus the HHS, U.S. Department of Transportation, and Department of Homeland Security joint guidance in the “Runway to Recovery” document. This new order is consistent with the measures that have been taken so far to increase our ability to detect and contain COVID-19 proactively and aggressively.”
Passengers are required to get a viral test (i.e., a test for current infection) within the three days before their flight from the U.K. to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (in hard copy or electronic) to the airline. Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers before they board. If a passenger chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger.
This order was set to be signed by CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D., on Friday, and will become effective on Monday.
In response to this action Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, "When British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the U.K. had discovered a new variant of the COVID virus that could be 70% more transmissible, it became clear just how dangerous it was that the U.S. government did not require travelers to obtain a negative test result before flying across the Atlantic.
"New York did everything it could within the limited authority it has over international flights, and within days we were able to convince British Airways, Delta and Virgin Atlantic to voluntarily test passengers before they left the U.K. I thank the airlines for their quick efforts.
"But testing travelers flying to just one out of 50 states was clearly not enough. I called for the federal government to reverse its policy and am glad to see that it has now done so. Testing people for COVID-19 before they get on planes is common sense. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past, and we must continue to do everything we can to keep New Yorkers and Americans safe.