Starting Tuesday, travelers arriving in the United States from any other country must show proof of a negative test for coronavirus. The State Department is also urging Americans to avoid traveling overseas for non-essential reasons, warning that those who test positive or are unable to show proof of a negative test could remain stranded abroad for an extended period – and that for them, assistance from the US government will be limited.
“The State Department is committed to helping US citizens abroad who find themselves in dire circumstances, but this assistance will likely be limited,” Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Consular Affairs Ian Brownlee said . “Our goal is to help people avoid these difficult situations in the first place.”
The directive was in line with the new tone of the Biden administration which has tightened the rules for international travel. Many other countries have been requiring negative test results for months.
While global travel will be affected, particularly in light of the Biden administration’s decision to ban travelers – excluding US citizens – from Brazil, Britain, Ireland, From South Africa and 26 countries in Europe that allow crossing open borders, the biggest impact of the testing rule will be on destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico, which have continued to attract American leisure travelers. who cannot travel to other parts of the world.
“We continue to launch curve balls across our industry,” said Jason Kycek, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Villa, a golf and beach resort in the Dominican Republic that is expanding its existing on-site testing facilities. “The finish line keeps moving, but we’re staying on top of things and making sure our customers have what they need and can travel safely.”
Mexico and the Caribbean countries have have remained popular destinations for American travelers, although other destinations closed their borders, in part because of their proximity to the United States, which made them relatively easy and affordable to reach. In the fall, several U.S. airlines added flights to the Caribbean islands and to Mexico at a time when routes elsewhere were cut. In November, nearly 500,000 Americans flew to Mexico alone, according to official figures.
Under the new requirement, travelers will have to get tested no more than three days before their scheduled flight, which will give their airline a negative result before boarding. Those who have had the virus in the past will need to present recovery documents in the form of a recent positive viral test and a letter from a healthcare provider or public health official stating that they have been allowed to travel.
The United States will accept the results of rapid antigen tests, while other countries have requested what is called polymerase chain reaction tests, or PCR tests. Antigenic tests have been shown to be less reliable than PCR tests.
For an industry already decimated by the pandemic, the new testing requirement may lead to a trade rebound. Last week, United Airlines told reporters in its fourth quarter earnings call that Mexican destinations were among the hardest hit by the new testing requirement.