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U.S. Airports Will No Longer Screen International Arrivals for COVID-19

AFAR logo AFAR 9/10/2020 Michelle Baran

a group of people sitting at a train station: U.S. Airports Will No Longer Screen International Arrivals for COVID-19 © Photo by Shutterstock U.S. Airports Will No Longer Screen International Arrivals for COVID-19

International travelers coming into the United States will no longer receive a COVID-19 health screening and will not be required to fly into 1 of 13 airports where the enhanced screening measures were being carried out.

The move, which was first reported by Yahoo News on Wednesday and has since been confirmed by other news outlets, will see those international flight reroutings and screenings come to an end at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, September 14—almost exactly six months after they were instituted.

Back in mid-March, after President Donald Trump issued a presidential proclamation banning travel from Europe, people who were exempted from the ban (including U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and their family members) were required to fly back to the United States through 1 of 13 U.S. airports, where they were to undergo an enhanced entry screening. The conditions also applied to those arriving from Brazil, Iran, and China.

The 13 airports are:

  •     Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS), Massachusetts
  •     Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
  •     Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
  •     Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
  •     Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan
  •     Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
  •     John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
  •     Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), California
  •     Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida
  •     Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
  •     San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
  •     Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
  •     Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia

The screenings included asking passengers about their medical history and current health condition, taking their temperature, and obtaining their contact information, which was to be provided to local health authorities—something that can prove useful for contact tracing, Yahoo reported.

Initially, passengers were then asked to proceed to their final destination and self-quarantine for 14 days in accordance with guidance provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But, in a story first reported by AFAR, the CDC last month quietly dropped its 14-day posttravel quarantine recommendation.

And now, the airport health screenings are being dropped, too.

CNN reported that a TSA official told the news agency that a draft of the new international arrivals guidance states that the reasoning for ending airport screenings is that fewer than 15 of the 675,000 passengers who had been screened had been identified as having COVID-19.

The move is the latest in a series of pivots that are easing restrictions on international travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the CDC having relaxed its travel guidance regarding quarantines, the U.S. State Department last month said it was no longer advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel—instead returning to country-specific travel advice.

The State Department’s sweeping Global Level 4 Health Advisory had been put in place on March 19, 2020, advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global coronavirus pandemic. The latest country-specific updates and advisories are listed on the State Department website, and U.S. citizens traveling abroad can also search for the country or countries they plan on visiting at travel.state.gov.

While the global travel advisory has been lifted, numerous international travel bans remain in place, including to Europe from the United States and from Europe to the United States (with some exceptions), and those are being strictly enforced. Countries throughout the world still have varying degrees of travel restrictions in place, including for U.S. travelers.

>> Next: Where Can Americans Travel Right Now?

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