CLEVELAND — New air travel restrictions are in effect as the United States tries to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate.
The new guidelines force all passengers, 2 years and older, who are boarding international flights into the U.S to present a negative Coronavirus test taken no more than 3 days before the flight. Passengers can also provide proof they’ve recovered from the virus within the past 3 months.
“I think it’s a good step, it’s one of many steps,” says Dr. Frank Esper, an infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. “There’s no one silver bullet for this pandemic.”
The testing isn’t provided, so it needs to be done by each traveler and if a flight is delayed past 3 days from the test, they’ll have to get retested. The order does still apply to those who’ve already received the COVID-19 vaccine and is part of an executive order signed by President Biden that also made masks mandatory on planes.
“The federal government is trying to organize a more complete response rather than a piecemeal response," Dr. Esper says. "A lot of carriers were mandating masks, but it was more on the company level, not on the federal level.”
Airports and airlines are noe taking measures to help travelers comply with all these restrictions.
Cleveland Hopkins Airport had already set up Covid-19 testing that provides results to your phone, in as little as 15 minutes. The testing site is on the public side of the airport, so anyone can use it. The cost ranges from $95 to $175, depending on which test or multiple tests you get.
American Airlines has a Verifly app that acts as a mobile health passport where travelers can upload test results, and next month, United Airlines will be the first to allow passengers to schedule a Covid test through their website. All of these measures are going into a place with spring break right around the corner.
“Who knows where we’re going to be from a vaccination standpoint, but this spring break is going to be a lot better than last spring bring,” says Dr. Esper. “Expect that there is going to be some travel advisories for most of this year, if not the whole year.”
As far as domestic travel, every state has its own requirements.
Here in Ohio, travelers are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days after traveling to states reporting positive rates of 15% or higher. The CDC is recommending that travelers get tested three to five days after travel and self-quarantine for seven days after traveling.
Dr. Esper says, “I don’t think travel is going to be anything that is going to be normal for the majority of this year, until we really feel like we’re hitting that protective immunity.”