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US drops COVID testing requirement for airline passengers entering the country

Up until now, international passengers have had to show proof of a negative test result within a day of entering the US.

Image:Pre-flight testing at LAX airport. Pic: AP
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The United States will drop a requirement for travellers to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the country.

The change will come into force at midnight on Sunday for all passengers arriving by plane.

Kevin Munoz, the White House assistant press secretary, tweeted that Joe Biden's work on vaccines and treatments was "critical" to the development.

He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will monitor "based on the science and in context of circulating variants" but for now deemed testing was no longer necessary.

Most countries, including the UK, have already abandoned testing requirements in a bid to return international travel to pre-COVID levels.

Previously fully vaccinated arrivals to the US could show a negative test result within three days of travel, with non-vaccinated travellers made to test within a day of their journey.

But when the Omicron variant swept the US in November, Mr Biden toughened the rules to require all non-US adults to test within a day.

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Dropping 'burdensome' testing will boost travel industry

Travel industry bosses across the US have been calling on the government to drop testing requirements for months, claiming it is deterring people from booking international trips.

"I'm glad the CDC suspended the burdensome coronavirus testing requirement for international travelers, and I'll continue to do all I can to support the strong recovery of our hospitality industry," Senator for Nevada, Cortez Masto said in a statement.

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It comes six weeks after a federal judge lifted the CDC requirement to wear masks on all trains, planes, buses and public transport hubs.

The Biden administration is challenging the ruling, claiming it would help better manage future health emergencies.