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The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it is not ready to lift the coronavirus testing requirements for arriving international travelers.
As states begin to lift indoor mask mandates, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Yahoo Finance that the agency is optimistic COVID-19 cases will continue to decline, but will maintain current protocols due to the virus’ uncertainty.
Travel associations in the U.S. have continued to push for the removal of the testing requirement, which many believe is responsible for international tourism still being down 38 percent compared to 2019.
“We came down from a very high level and our hospitalizations right now are higher than they ever were during the peak of our Delta surge,” Walensky said. “So, while we will look down the field and say ‘what does this look like?’ and ‘how can we relax some of our mitigation strategies?’ first we always need to be prepared for what may come around the corner. Second, we’re not quite ready to do so yet.”
Last week, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) sent a letter to the White House asking that vaccinated Americans returning to the U.S. from abroad be exempt from the required pre-flight testing.
The ASTA letter was followed by the U.S. Travel Association, Airlines for America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, International Air Transport Association, Aerospace Industries Association and other groups sending a letter to the White House requesting the same changes.
Earlier this week, France became the latest country to reportedly announce it would lift the current coronavirus testing protocols for fully vaccinated international travelers.
The CDC also added several popular tourism destinations to its Level 4 travel warning list, bringing the total number of countries and territories at high risk to 134.