The CDC’s Latest Pandemic Guidelines for Travel and Events

The White House will lift vaccine requirements for international air travelers on May 11, when the national public-health emergency expires.


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The Biden Administration will end Covid-19 vaccination requirements for international air travelers at the end of the day on May 11, when the national public-health emergency expires. Until then, non-U.S. citizens are required to be fully vaccinated in order to the enter the country. As of April 29, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened its definition of full vaccination, with travelers only needing to have received one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine on or after Aug. 16, 2022. The agency said it chose this date as it represents the earliest time that travelers could have gotten a bivalent vaccine, which protects against the original virus strain and the Omicron variant.

The U.S. Travel Association praised the news that vaccine restrictions for inbound travelers would soon be lifted. President and CEO Geoff Freeman said the move "eases a significant entry barrier for many global travelers, moving our industry and country forward." However, he noted that the airline industry continues to face staffing shortages and other challenges that might hamper its recovery.

"The return of international visitors should be as efficient and secure as possible," said Freeman. "The federal government must ensure U.S. airports and other ports of entry are appropriately staffed with Customs and Border Protection officers to meet the growing demand for entry.”

Easing of Covid Travel Restrictions

As of March 10, the CDC no longer requires air travelers from China, Hong Kong or Macau to show a negative Covid-19 test result or documentation of recovery before boarding a flight to the U.S.

In early October 2022, the CDC stopped providing international travel advisories related to Covid-19. According to the agency, "fewer countries are testing or reporting Covid-19 cases," which limits its ability to assess risk levels accurately for travelers. The CDC previously maintained an extensive risk-level list, which was updated weekly. Countries were classified as as low, moderate, high risk or very-high risk depending on the number of Covid-19 cases over the past 28 days. Moving forward, the CDC is only issuing travel advisories if there is a "concerning Covid-19 variant" or other situation that would change the agency's travel recommendations for a particular country.

In June 2022, the CDC rescinded its requirement that international travelers entering the U.S. by air must present proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within one day of departure.

The agency still recommends that international travelers stay up to date with their Covid-19 vaccines and follow the latest face mask recommendations

The CDC no longer recommends that unvaccinated people quarantine after being exposed to the virus, but instead advises that they wear a mask around others for 10 days and get tested on day five. Those who test positive should still self-isolate for five days.

Face-Mask Recommendations

The federal mask mandate, which required face coverings to be worn at all times on public transportation and in transport hub, was struck down in April 2022 by a federal judge. The agency issued updated guidelines for when people should wear face masks indoors. Face masks are not required in low-risk counties, and are only recommended in areas with medium transmission if the person is immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness. People in counties with high transmission of Covid-19 should wear face coverings indoors regardless of their vaccination status, according to the CDC. 

Based on the latest guidance, meeting organizers and venue managers who are assessing safety measures will likely need to consider transmission levels not only in their host destination, but also in the areas from which their attendees are traveling.