The CDC says passengers from the UK must test negative via PCR or antigen test within 72 hours of departure.
The United States will require all air passengers arriving from the United Kingdom to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure from Monday amid concerns over a new variant of the coronavirus that may be more transmissible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement that all air passengers from the UK must test negative in order to travel to the United States. The move was a turnaround after the Trump administration told U.S. airlines on Tuesday it did not plan to require testing for arriving British passengers.
This follows the emergence of a highly contagious new variant of the coronavirus in Britain which prompted many countries to close their borders to travelers from there.
The British Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.
Earlier Thursday, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines said they were requiring all passengers on flights from the UK to the US to test negative for COVID-19 performed within 72 hours of departure.
The CDC said Thursday evening that passengers were to test negative via PCR or antigen testing.
The CDC said that “viruses are constantly changing by mutation, and preliminary analysis in the UK suggests this new variant may be up to 70 percent more transmissible than previously circulating variants.”
The CDC noted that in March, President Donald Trump suspended the entry of almost all foreign nationals who visited the UK in the past 14 days, which reduced air travel to the US from Great Britain about 90%.
Under the new policy, passengers departing from the UK for the US must provide the airline with written documentation of their lab test result (on paper or electronically), the CDC said. Airlines must confirm negative test results for all passengers before boarding.
If passengers choose not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding.
The CDC said the order will be signed on Friday and go into effect on Monday.
Delta’s policy, expanded since its decision on Monday to require screenings on British flights to New York’s JFK airport, takes effect on December 24, while United’s demand begins on December 28.
On Monday, the three airlines that connect London to JFK – Delta, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic – accepted a request from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to screen British passengers.
US airlines have already significantly reduced their flights to the UK, as well as to the rest of Europe.