The United States will drop from Sunday a requirement that people arriving in the country by air take a COVID-19 test within a day before boarding their flights, a senior White House official confirmed on Friday.

Until now, all passengers had to present a negative COVID-19 test, which was not older than 24 hours, to their airline before departing for the US.

The only exception to this was for people who had recovered from an infection within 90 days beforehand — and had proof of this.

A formal announcement will be made later on Friday, said White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz on Twitter.

The step comes as the busy summer travel season is kicking off and airlines are already preparing for record demand. Airlines have said many US travelers are not flying internationally due to concerns they could test positive and be stranded abroad.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that the science and data show the pre-departure COVID tests are no longer necessary, the Associated Press reported, citing a Biden administration official.

According to the official, the agency would reevaluate the need for the testing requirement every 90 days and that it could be reinstated if a troubling new variant emerges.

Travelling made easier

The United States has required incoming international air travelers to provide pre-departure negative tests since January 2021. The CDC has not required testing for land border crossings, but still required it for international arrivals.

In November, as the highly transmissible omicron variant swept the world, President Joe Biden’s administration toughened the requirement and required all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to test within a day of travel to the US.

The US government has gradually relaxed COVID restrictions in the past few weeks. However, the number of new infections has recently increased again. Around 300 people still die every day in the US after being infected with the coronavirus.

dh/rs (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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