The Biden administration has announced new more stringent Covid-19 testing requirements for unvaccinated travelers and contact tracing requirements for entering the country by air. And as part of that process, passengers will need to document their vaccination status to determine the testing requirements they’ll have to undergo.
The U.S. currently requires a negative Covid-19 test taken within three calendar days in order to enter the country by air (but not to cross land borders). Alternatively passengers can show documentation of recovery from prior infection within the past 90 days.
- There’s no vaccination requirement, or vaccine check
- Prior infection is recognized for its immunity, but not vaccination, which is odd because the reverse is true in almost every other government policy. (Immunity from prior infection and one dose of an mRNA vaccine is the gold standard for immunity based on current scientific knowledge.)
Going forward the U.S. will be requiring airlines to check vaccination status, and those who are unvaccinated will have to:
- Test the same day or day prior to returning to the U.S.
- Show proof that they have puchased a second test to take after arrival
There will also be new contact tracing procedures with airlines collecting phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Currently airlines may not have this information if tickets were booked through a third party agent.
Since Covid-19 prevalence in the U.S. remains elevated, and there are still several states were less than half the population is vaccinated, requiring Covid-19 testing for vaccinated Americans is silly. We aren’t keeping out new variants, those are already here and growing here. And such travelers pose less of a threat than the people you bump into in a restaurant or bar in Texas or Florida. Yet the U.S. is not reducing restrictions on those who are vaccinated, which might serve as a carrot alongside the sticks being used to pressure people to vaccinate.
The White House coronavirus advisor Jeff Zients says the “new international travel system follows the science to keep Americans and international air travel safe.” There remains no vaccination or testing requirement to enter the U.S. via Mexico’s land border.