In what will be a major shake-up for travel, the US is set to suspend COVID-19 test requirements for all international arrivals starting midnight Sunday, June 12, according to CNN.
Although COVID restrictions have eased around the globe, the US continues to have some of the strictest pandemic entry requirements in place.
The country currently requires that all passengers over the age of two boarding international flights to the US, including returing citizens, present a negative COVID test taken a day before departure. Those who have recovered from the virus within the past 90 days are required to show a certificate of recovery before they can board their flight.
Certificates are not required to cross land borders with Mexico or Canada.
When will the US suspend pre-arrival COVID-19 testing?
The pre-arrival testing policy has been in place for 18 months to stem the spread of the virus. But starting June 12, it will be suspended, not scrapped entirely. An official announcement from the government is expected later today.
CNN reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will reassess the policy in 90 days and could reintroduce it if a new variant of concern emerges.
The Biden administration has been under pressure by airlines and the tourism industry to end the pre-departure testing requirement, as countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Jamaica, Greece, Norway, Sweden and Denmark have ended similar requirements in recent months.
In a survey released last month, industry group, Airlines for America, said its carriers estimated that 4.3 million international passengers would return to the US if the testing rule was scrapped.
Critics of the testing policy said it was a major deterrent to travel, with passengers concerned about the prospect of testing positive and finding themselves stuck abroad, unable to return home, and scrambling to find last-minute accommodation to isolate in.
Regardless of the policy change, the CDC will continue to recommend testing for international and domestic travel.
Can unvaccinated people travel to the US?
Visitors 18 and older who are not US citizens, lawful permanent residents or green card holders must be fully vaccinated to enter. Children 17 and younger are exempt. Vaccination certificates must be presented to airlines before boarding and will be checked again upon arrival. For now, there has been no suggestion that this rule will be lifted anytime soon.
We will update this article when more information is available.