The US government announced that on June 12, it will drop the requirement to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to enter the country, a restriction that has remained in place since the US opened its doors to travelers from Europe last November.
According to a government official who spoke off the record to the press prior to the official announcement, there was no longer any scientific justification for maintaining the requirement. He added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will review the decision in 90 days and determine if the testing requirement needs to be reinstated.
The announcement is another step in the Biden administration’s dogged effort to push the pandemic to the background before the mid-term congressional elections in November, which don’t bode well for Democratic candidates. Yet infections are on the rise in the US, which passed the symbolic milestone of one million Covid-related deaths in May. New coronavirus variants, while certainly less severe, continue to spread, giving no respite to a population that is 67% vaccinated. Many have also received one or two booster doses.
The mask requirement for air travel was dropped on April 18, and most public transportation modes and locations (airports, and train and bus stations) also stopped requiring masks. Soon after the mask requirement was lifted, airlines began lobbying the government to also drop the negative Covid-19 test requirement. Travelers to the US had to take a PCR or antigen test the day before the trip. Airlines in the US haven’t asked domestic or international travelers to present their vaccination cards for several weeks.
The negative Covid-19 test requirement first began in January 2021 when the pandemic was still raging and less than 10% of the American public had been vaccinated. From early 2020 to November 2021, international borders were closed to travelers from 33 countries, including China and more than 10 other European countries.