The US government will now require all airline passengers arriving from the United Kingdom to test negative for COVID-19 starting Monday.
A new mutant strain of the virus that is 70 percent more infectious is spreading in Britain, prompting many countries to shut their borders to travelers from there.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement Thursday that all airline passengers arriving from the UK must test negative within 72 hours of departure.
Their decision marked a turnaround after the Trump administration told U.S. airlines on Tuesday it was not planning to require any testing for arriving UK passengers.
Earlier on Thursday, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines said they were requiring all passengers on flights from the United Kingdom to the United States to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.
The CDC said late on Thursday passengers must test negative via either a PCR or Antigen test.
They noted ‘viruses constantly change through mutation, and preliminary analysis in the UK suggests that this new variant may be up to 70% more transmissible than previously circulating variants.’
The US government will now require all airline passengers arriving from the United Kingdom to test negative for COVID-19 starting Monday. Travellers Arrive at terminal 4 at JFK International airport in New York on December 22
Anatoly Grablevsky, 19, said airport officials in London Heathrow didn’t screen him with any pre-boarding questions about his health or potential symptoms
Britain’s infection rate, in yellow, has rebounded sharply since the end of a national lockdown at the start of December – a resurgence blamed on the new variant of Covid-19 which has left the UK isolated by a series of travel bans. The US infection rate is still higher than in Britain as of December 21, pictured
President Donald Trump in March suspended entry of nearly all foreign nationals who visited the United Kingdom in the past 14 days, which has reduced air travel to the U.S. from Britain by about 90%.
Under the new policy, passengers departing from the UK for the United States must provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (in hard copy or electronic) to the airline, the CDC said.
Airlines must confirm negative test results for all passengers before they board. If passengers choose not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding.
The CDC said the order will be signed on Friday and is effective Monday.
On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had called it ‘reprehensible’ and ‘grossly negligent’ that the federal government isn’t acting to address the new strain of coronavirus circulating in the UK
On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it ‘reprehensible’ and ‘grossly negligent’ that the federal government isn’t acting to address the new strain of coronavirus circulating in the UK.
Passengers arriving in New York City on Virgin flights from the United Kingdom said they didn’t have to take a COVID test before boarding Tuesday.
They told DailyMail.com they were surprised at the lack of screening prior to boarding their flight, considering the emergence of the mutant strand.
Anatoly Grablevsky, 19, said airport officials in London Heathrow didn’t screen him with any pre-boarding questions about any symptoms he may have been suffering from or potential exposure.
‘They didn’t ask me anything,’ he said. ‘There was really nothing to that effect.’
Brian Austin (pictured with his wife, Dawn) also arrived in the Big Apple from London on a Virgin Atlantic flight. He said there was around 110 passengers onboard his flight
A cluster of passengers spill out from JFK’s Terminal 4 on Tuesday, shortly after a Virgin Atlantic flight arrived from London Heathrow
On Saturday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he would be locking down London and parts of southeast England due to a new strain of the coronavirus, which scientists say is 70 percent more transmissible than the original strain. There is no evidence to suggest it’s more deadly.
Delta’s policy, expanded from its decision on Monday to require the screenings on UK flights to New York’s JFK Airport, is effective December 24, while United’s requirement begins December 28.
On Monday, the three airlines that fly from London to JFK Delta, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic – agreed to a request from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that they screen passengers from Britain.
U.S. airlines have already drastically scaled back flying to the United Kingdom, as well as the rest of Europe.
The British Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment late on Thursday.