The United States will soon require travelers entering the country from China, Hong Kong and Macau to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
The measure will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on Jan. 5 and applies to all individuals two years of age or older traveling from China (PRC), Hong Kong and Macau regardless of nationality or vaccination status. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a press release the new testing requirement was necessary because of a “surge” of COVID-19 cases in those areas.
“(The) CDC is announcing this step to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the United States during the surge in COVID-19 cases in the PRC given the lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data being reported from the PRC,” the press release read. “These data are critical to monitor the case surge effectively and decrease the chance for entry of a novel variant of concern. CDC will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our approach as necessary.”
Specifically, travelers must take an approved COVID-19 PCR test or antigen self-test no more than two days before their scheduled departure from China, Hong Kong and Macau and show proof of a negative result to their airline before boarding their aircraft. Alternatively, individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 more than 10 days before their departure can provide proper documentation of recovery to their airline instead of proof of a negative test.
The requirement will also apply to individuals entering the United States from China “via third country transit and to passengers connecting through the United States onward to further destinations,” according to the CDC.
“Reduced testing and case reporting in the PRC and minimal sharing of viral genomic sequence data could delay the identification of new variants of concern if they arise,” the press release from the CDC read. “Pre-departure testing and the requirement to show a negative test result has been shown to decrease the number of infected passengers boarding airplanes, and it will help to slow the spread of the virus as we work to identify and understand any potential new variants that may emerge.”
As a reminder, a vaccine requirement continues to remain in place for all international travelers entering the United States. All non-U.S. citizens and non-permanent residents must show proof they are fully vaccinated to their airline before boarding their flight, and then again to Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The attorneys at Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm continue to monitor the situation closely and will alert clients as circumstances evolve.