Sept. 14, 2020

The U.S. government recently revised its policies regarding international air passenger arrivals amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beginning immediately, flights carrying airline passengers arriving from, or who recently had a presence in certain countries will no longer be required to land at one of 15 designated airports. Enhanced entry health screening for these passengers also will be halted.

Previously, passengers arriving from, or with recent presence in China (excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau), Iran, the Schengen region of Europe, the United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe, Ireland and Brazil were required to land at designated airports and submit to enhanced entry health screening.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the change is due to a “better understanding of COVID-19 transmission that indicates symptom-based screening has limited effectiveness because people with COVID-19 may have no symptoms or fever at the time of screening, or only mild symptoms.”

According to the CDC notice, the agency is shifting its strategy and prioritizing other public health measures.

The CDC will now prioritize 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; country-specific risk assessments to assist passengers in making informed decisions about travel-related risk and post-arrival passenger recommendations for self-monitoring and precautions to protect others, among other mitigation measures.

“This initial relaxation of some travel restrictions is the first step at restarting low-risk international travel to and from the United States,” said Doug Carr, NBAA’s vice president of regulatory and international affairs. “This demonstrates the likelihood of additional policy and guidance changes as understanding of COVID-19 transmission continues to evolve. The agency’s new priorities for airline passengers arriving from certain countries also provide good guidance for business aircraft travelers.”

Review a CBP bulletin on the announcement. (PDF)