When will the US drop Covid test requirements? Disney and travel firms demand end to testing restrictions

The US government is under pressure to lift all Covid travel restrictions as hundreds of travel firms, including Disney, sign a fresh plea to follow Britain and other nations in scrapping the requirement for pre-departure testing.

Currently, unvaccinated Britons are banned from entry while fully vaccinated travelers must still take a test within one day of their journey.

The US Travel Association (Usta), which represents the travel industry in America, has called for an “urgent repeal” of the pre-departure testing requirement.

More than 260 travel firms, including Expedia, Disney Parks, Delta Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines, put their names to a letter to the White House calling for an end to restrictions.

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The letter points out that international travel spend is still down 78 per cent compared to 2019, with business spend at 56 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

The group also raises inconsistencies in US Covid border policy, with testing only applying to air travel and not overland visitors from Canada and Mexico.

“Since the federal government does not require negative tests for entry at our land-border ports of entry with Canada and Mexico, it no longer makes sense to keep a pre-departure Covid-19 testing requirement in place for vaccinated inbound international air travelers to the US,” the letter reads.

What are the current travel rules for America?

At present, passengers are required to show a negative Covid-19 test result taken no more than one day before travel. This can be a lateral flow or PCR test but must be supervised, either in person or over the internet. You must use a private provider, rather than a government-provided test.

Since Monday 18 April, face masks have no longer been mandatory on flights to and from the UK and the US, or domestically in the country.

The United States’ face mask mandate was scrapped when the Trump-appointment federal judge in Florida threw out President Biden’s proposed extension of the ruling.

When could the rules be scrapped?

America’s strict entry rules have stayed in place longer than many expected, with the US lagging behind most other nations in easing restrictions.

Almost a month ago, on 13 April, US airline Delta was predicting PCR testing would be dropped within weeks.

Delta president Glen Hauenstein told analysts during the company’s first-quarter earnings call: “Hopefully that gets rolled back in the next few weeks. We are hearing good things from Washington.”

The company’s chief legal officer, Peter Carter, added: “We are getting a strong indication that pre-departure testing will be phased out in the near future, which is quite encouraging.”

Canada, Australia, South Africa, and the Netherlands all recently announced an end to pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated arrivals.

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