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U.S. Will Require a Negative Coronavirus Test for All Travelers From U.K. | Press "Enter" to skip to content

U.S. Will Require a Negative Coronavirus Test for All Travelers From U.K.

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People traveling immediately after the holiday may face uncertainty: Many private testing clinics and labs are closed on Christmas Day, so testing within the 72-hour window may prove difficult, especially for the P.C.R. screening, which must be sent to a lab and can take several days to process.

The rapid antigen test, a relatively new tool to detect the virus, gives a result in around 30 minutes, but it is not as widely available, although it is cheaper. Heathrow Airport, for example, charges passengers about $130 for P.C.R. results with 48 hours and about $60 for antigen tests with results within 45 minutes.

Both tests are offered at major British airports — including Heathrow and Gatwick, London’s two major hubs, and Manchester Airport — but passengers must register in advance. It was unclear how many would be able to procure a test and get a result in time for travel.

The introduction of new travel restrictions led to concerns that travelers to the United States would flock to the airport, as Londoners did at train stations last Saturday when tighter domestic rules were announced. But employees at Heathrow on Friday described a normal, if quieter, stream of passengers typical of Christmas Day, with most appearing to travel on long-haul flights.

Several airlines had already announced policies requiring proof of a negative test after a demand from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York that passengers arriving from London to John F. Kennedy International Airport would need to provide documentation of a negative test result.

“We can’t let history repeat itself with this new variant,” Mr. Cuomo had written on Twitter.

Also on Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said that passengers arriving at Newark Airport would need negative tests within 72 hours of departure to enter.

The American travel requirements are less draconian than those of other countries in Europe and Asia, which barred all travelers from Britain after the new coronavirus variant emerged. Experts are skeptical that travel bans can stop the spread of the variant. In fact, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said there was a good chance that the variant was already in the country.


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