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US To End Enhanced Screening at Airports

Enhanced Screening will end at airports in the US from September 14, the CDC announces

Published on September 10, 2020

Atlanta Airport Passengers in March wearing facemasks at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Photo: Chad Davis

The United States is set to end its enhanced screening of coronavirus at American airports, with confirmation from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) that its approach to managing the transmission of the disease will change from Monday September 14.

At the start of the pandemic, the US strictly regulated international travel to the country, with 13 designated airport hubs allocated specifically for inbound travel to allow for enhanced screening operations. This was later expanded to 15 airport hubs. At the same time, non US-Citizens from Ireland, the UK and European countries in the Schengen area were prohibited from entering the States.

Speculation emerged yesterday (September 9) from news firm Reuters that changes were about to be made, and the CDC confirmed later on September 9 what those changes will be.

Describing the changes as an 'adjustment', the CDC write that "As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the United States Government (USG) is innovating and taking a new approach to help keep international air passengers healthy. The new, more effective strategy focuses on the continuum of travel and the individual passenger, including pre-departure and post-arrival education, efforts to develop a potential testing framework with international partners, and illness response."

From September, the CDC confirms that the US Govenment "will remove requirements for directing all flights carrying airline passengers arriving from, or recently had a presence in, certain countries to land at one of 15 designated airports and halt enhanced entry health screening for these passengers." This could lead to more flexible flight arrangements for travelers from the UK, Ireland and EU Schengen Area countries, as they will no longer be required to travel via the assigned list of 15 airport hubs when entering the US.

The CDC go on to explain that resources will "be dedicated to more effective mitigation efforts that focus on the individual passenger, including: pre-departure, in-flight, and post-arrival health education for passengers; robust illness response at airports; voluntary collection of contact information from passengers using electronic means as proposed by some airlines to avoid long lines, crowding and delays associated with manual data collection; potential testing to reduce the risk of travel-related transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 and movement of the virus from one location to another; country-specific risk assessments to assist passengers in making informed decisions about travel-related risk; enhancing training and education of partners in the transportation sector and at United States ports of entry to ensure recognition of illness and immediate notification to CDC; and post-arrival passenger recommendations for self-monitoring and precautions to protect others, with enhanced precautions, including staying home to the extent possible for 14 days for people arriving from high-risk destinations."

Although the CDC note 14 day quarantines for people arriving from high-risk destinations, there has yet to be confirmation that this change means non US Citizens will be able to travel to the States. It does, however, mean that US Citizens and green card holders may find the process of traveling to the US more straight forward.

To see the full CDC announcement, go to www.cdc.gov. To keep up to date with changes to US-UK travel, make sure you're signed up to The American's Free Weekly E-Newsletter.

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