U.S. Airports to Stop Screening of Some International Passengers for Covid-19

US government set to end COVID-19 screenings for certain passengers arriving overseas

The U.S. government confirmed its plan to stop Covid-19 screening of passengers arriving from overseas. According to Reuters’ proposed implementation plan, the changes are expected to take place as early as Monday but the transition could still be delayed.

The US airports have decided to reduce the criteria for travelers coming from the targeted countries as symptom-based screening has limited effectiveness and people with COVID-19 doesn’t experience any symptoms or only mild symptoms. With this update, there will no longer be a need to reroute flights from those countries to select U.S. airports.

With the spike of Coronavirus cases, The US started conducting enhanced screenings at select airports in January of passengers arriving from Wuhan, China, where a virus outbreak had originated. Over the following months, the process of screening passengers from high-risk countries started at additional airports. The screenings led to long queues at US airports and overcrowded conditions for a brief time. Henceforth, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is changing its policy and implementing other public health initiatives to reduce the risk of transmission of travel-related diseases.

The CDC says it would concentrate on making the process more productive to concentrate on the individual passenger including health education, response to airport illness, voluntary electronic data collection, potential assessments, better training for airport personnel, and more.

Therefore, the end of conducting screening test has taken place across 15 International airports of United State including Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Miami, Washington-Dulles, Newark, Seattle and San Francisco. These efforts associated with a routing into these airports of all flights from “high-risk” countries, such as China, Iran and most of Europe which will end on Monday (September 14, 2020).

This move comes as major US airlines extend their schedules to more international destinations. Earlier this week, United Airlines announced that it plans to extend its global route network with new non-stop service to Africa and India.

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The US-based airlines said on this move that there is no longer any point in continuing screening at these airports, given the incredibly low number of passengers reported by the CDC as having a potential health concern. It is unlikely if airlines would step up their own screening in the absence of government efforts, while recent demands by U.S. airlines for the Transportation Security Administration to assume a greater role in screening duties render it impossible. Most US airlines are limited to health questionnaires at check-in.

Currently, the US government stopped conducting screening for domestic passengers. For international travelers from a number of countries, including China, Iran, Brazil, and the European Union, travel restrictions remain, while the state department ended its “Do Not Travel” warning for U.S. travelers in early Aug.