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U.S. will require negative Covid tests for inbound international air travel

Passengers arrive on a flight from London amid new restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at JFK International Airport in New York, December 21, 2020.

Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

The U.S. will soon require airline passengers to prove they recently tested negative for Covid-19 before flying to the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

The measure, which aims to curb the spread of the disease, comes as new infections have hit records.

Starting Jan. 26, arriving travelers will have to test negative for Covid-19 within three days of their flight to the U.S., the CDC said.

“Testing does not eliminate all risk, 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,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a news release.

The agency last month started requiring negative Covid tests for travelers flying from the U.K., as a more contagious strain of the virus was detected there, though it has since been found around the U.S.

International air travel remains extremely depressed because of the virus and travel restrictions that prohibit many foreigners from entering the U.S.

December international arrivals by air were down 76% from a year earlier, with noncitizen arrivals down 83%, according to Airlines for America, a trade group that represents most large U.S. airlines.