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CDC Mandates COVID Tests for Anyone Flying to the U.S.

If you’re flying into the U.S. on January 26 or later, you’re going to need proof of a negative COVID-19 test to enter the country, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The new rule applies to U.S. citizens as well as foreign travelers. Air passengers will be required to obtain a viral test within three days of the departure date of their flight. Written documentation (paper or electronic copy) must be showed to the airline in order to board the plane.

According to the CDC, travelers can show “documentation of recovery” from COVID-19 in lieu of a test, however, the CDC did not specify how long ago a person must have recovered from the virus.

The order was signed on January 12, but will not take effect until January 26 in order to give airlines and passengers sufficient notice to comply.

This mandatory step adds an extra layer of protection to the CDC’s current recommendation that people get tested again 3-5 days after returning home, as well as quarantine for 7 days after travel.

“Testing does not eliminate all risk, ”CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD said in a press release, “but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations.”

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