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CDC Mandates Negative COVID-19 Tests for UK Arrivals into the US

Clampdowns come as governments struggle to contain a new, more infectious variant of the virus

December 28, 2020

Beginning Dec. 28, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is requiring all passengers arriving from the United Kingdom to the US to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test or antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to departure.

This requirement is for travelers over the age of two whose travel originates from the UK. Passengers connecting from another country are exempt if their connection time in the UK is not more than 24 hours.

According to an announcement from United Airlines, same-day, pre-flight rapid tests are also available for ticketed passengers at the Collinson testing center located in Terminal 2 at London Heathrow.

Every passengers must also complete a CDC passenger disclosure and attestation form which can be downloaded here or at the departure airport in the UK.

The new CDC requirements come in response to the emergence of a variant of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus which causes COVID-19 – that health officials say could be as much as 70 percent more transmissible than earlier variants. The variant was identified earlier in December in the southeast of England, prompting a number of responses.

Countries in the EU instituted temporary bans on travel from the UK, beginning with the Netherlands, and other European countries followed suit including Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Republic of Ireland and Bulgaria.

Turkish Airlines has suspended flights to and from the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark and South Africa, and Canada suspended passenger flights from the UK for 72 hours beginning Monday.

Last Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new quarantine rules for international arrivals, in an attempt to stop the spread of the more infectious variant of COVID-19. Travelers from the UK who violate the mandatory quarantine order will be fined $1,000 for each day they are not in compliance.

The city’s tougher quarantine rules will apply to all international arrivals, de Blasio said, with certified letters ordering them to quarantine for 14 days. But specifically arrivals from the UK will be singled out, de Blasio said in a press conference announcing the move. “We’re going to have sheriff’s deputies go to the home or the hotel of every single traveler coming in from the UK.”

The new CDC rules come after major transatlantic carriers including British Airways, Delta and Virgin Atlantic introduced new rules requiring passengers to have negative COVID-19 test results of travel from the UK to New York. The testing requirement came at the request of the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo last week.