U.S. Will No Longer Require International Travelers to Undergo COVID-19 Screenings or Fly Into Limited Airports

COVID-19 screening at LAX

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Wednesday that international travelers will no longer be required to undergo enhanced COVID-19 testing upon their arrival to the U.S.

The CDC said in their announcement that international arrivals will not be screened for COVID-19 because “symptom-based screening has limited effectiveness” and asymptomatic passengers could continue to transmit the virus while passing the screening. Instead, the CDC will pivot its COVID-19 efforts “to more effective mitigation efforts that focus on the individual passenger.”

Travelers from (or who had recently traveled to) China, Iran, Europe’s Schengen Zone, the UK, Ireland, and Brazil were previously included in the mandatory enhanced health screenings.

Additionally, international flights will no longer be routed through designated airports starting Sept. 14.

Passengers who underwent enhanced screening were required to land in Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Atlanta, New York JFK, Miami, Los Angeles, Washington-Dulles, Newark, Seattle, or San Francisco airports.

A spokesperson for the lobbying group Airlines for America told Reuters that its member airlines “no longer believe that it makes sense to continue screening at these 15 airports given the extremely low number of passengers identified by the CDC as potentially having a health issue.”

Of the 675,000 passengers screened at the 15 airports, less than 15 were confirmed to have COVID-19.

The relaxation of the screening rules will apply to both foreign arrivals and Americans returning to the U.S. from abroad.

As enhanced screenings end, the CDC will work on health education for travelers, electronic methods of collecting passenger contact information, increased testing, a more robust illness response at airports, and enhanced training at U.S. ports of entry.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. When in a new city, she's usually out to discover under-the-radar art, culture, and secondhand stores. No matter her location, you can find her on Twitter, on Instagram or at caileyrizzo.com.

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