Travelers to the United States will soon no longer be faced with a testing requirement for COVID-19, according to multiple reports — a potential boon for New York’s lagging tourism trade.
The mandate is expected to expire at midnight on Sunday, several media outlets have reported. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, is expected to sign an order lifting the requirement Friday, according to the Wall Street Journal.
A spokesperson for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the region’s three major airports, said its facilities will follow CDC guidance and that of the states of New York and New Jersey.
U.S.-bound travelers have been asked to present a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country since early 2021, with limited exceptions. The expected move — which airlines have been lobbying the federal government for for months — marks the latest big change to hit the landscape of public transportation in America since the federal mask requirement was lifted in April.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has continued to require face coverings on mass transit, including New York City subways and buses. Taxis and other for-hire vehicles managed by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, have continued to require masks as well.
The New York City region has long relied on a tourism economy that has undergone severe hardships from the coronavirus pandemic.
The city is back to relaxing its COVID-19 protocols, after a surge in hospitalizations pushed its risk levels to “high” in mid-May. Mayor Eric Adams removed school mask mandates for kids under 4 this week, the last age group of students facing such requirements. The decision comes amid a decline in cases, though the seven-day average is five times higher now than when the city lifted mask mandates for older children back in March. Hospitalizations are also falling.
Nsikan Akpan contributed reporting. This story has been updated with additional comment.