U.S. Covid Entry Test Deterring International and U.S. Travelers; When Will Reason Prevail?

U.S. COVID Entry Test Deters International Travel-When Will Testing End?


The 1-Day COVID-19 Test Requirement to Enter the United States is deterring vaccinated international travelers from visiting the U.S. and some U.S. residents from traveling abroad. Two surveys help quantify the damage:

International Travelers Less Likely to Choose the U.S.

In a recent U.S. Travel Association survey, 57% noted that the risk of testing positive (following the required COVID-19 pre-departure testing one day prior to their flight) makes them less likely to travel to the United States. Over half (54%) said the added uncertainty of potentially having to cancel a trip due to the U.S. due to pre-departure testing requirements would have a big impact on their likelihood to visit the country.


Many U.S. Travelers Reluctant to Travel Abroad due to COVID-19 Test to Reenter

In a different survey, more than half (53.1%) of U.S. travelers said they’d be more likely to travel internationally without a testing requirement to reenter the U.S. And while, earlier in the pandemic, it was possible to insure against that possibility of being stranded abroad, as of 1/11/22, during the Omicron wave, Covac Global changed its policy, so that it will only transport COVID-19 positive clients with more serious cases, in order to avoid hospitalization. That means a U.S. traveler runs the risk of a longer than expected forced stay abroad, should s/he test positive the day before a scheduled return flight to the U.S.


Why the U.S. Pre-Travel COVID-19 Test No Longer Makes Sense

While a border closure or test requirement early in the pandemic made sense in order to slow down the spread of infection, we are now over two years into the pandemic, and virtually everyone who wants to be vaccinated and boosted has already gotten their shots. Omicron variants are widespread throughout the U.S., and new variants aren't being kept out, since there's no testing at the land borders with Canada and Mexico (in fact, some Canadian sports teams have taken advantage of this fact by crossing the land borders then flying around the U.S., so as not to risk having a player unable to enter the country due to a positive result).

So why is the Biden Administration still dragging its feet in getting rid of the COVID-19 test requirement, particularly for international visitors (who are required to be fully vaccinated) and fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and residents? At this point it makes even less sense than Japan remaining closed to all international tourism, since at least Kishida's LDP has been doing this for political reasons and a more conservative stance on vaccinations and boosters (see Why Japan Hasn't Reopened to International Visitors). At this point, there's very little popular or scientific support for the U.S. to be such an outlier on its testing stance for vaccinated travelers compared to many OECD peers, such as the UK, France, Germany, Canada, etc. that no longer require vaccinated travelers to take a pre-travel COVID-19 test.

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