The Orlando International Airport is warning all travelers coming back to the U.S. from overseas: starting next Tuesday, get a negative COVID test to get on a plane.
“In a sweeping effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that all air passengers entering the country will be required to produce a negative COVID-19 test prior to admittance,” the airport said. “A negative viral test, required to be taken up-to three calendar days before arrival to the United States, is required for everyone 2 years or older. This new requirement was announced last week and goes into effect January 26. Previously, U.S. citizens were not required to obtain a test before returning to the country.”
The airport said anyone who previously tested positive for Coronavirus will be required to provide documentation of recovery.
“This update in international travel requirements should be considered by all travelers before they book any air travel,” said Luis Olivero, Assistant Director of Airport Affairs for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “Research should be done on the availability of testing in the country they are traveling from to ensure passengers are able to board their flight to the U.S.”
Monday night, the White House said it would be lifting the ban on international travelers to the U.S. from Europe and Brazil.
President Trump’s proclamation would terminate “suspensions of entry into the united states of aliens who have been physically present in the Schengen area [European Union], the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and the Federative Republic of Brazil.”
But less than an hour later, President-elect Biden’s White House Communications Chief Jen Psaki tweeted there would be no lifting of travel restrictions.
“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” Psaki wrote. “On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association President and CEO Rich Maladecki said he was not surprised.
“I wasn’t celebrating, I was just waiting for additional facts and figures and realizing it’s still going to take some time,” Maladecki said. “We’re not going to be able to turn on a light switch and all of a sudden 75 million visitors are returning to Central Florida.”
Maladecki said one in three jobs in Central Florida is hospitality-related and thousands of jobs were lost over the past 10 months. Central Florida’s record-breaking 2019 brought 75 million visitors to Orlando, many from Europe and South America.
“Certainly one Administration was a little bit more free market than the second Administration, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we were going to open the doors and return to 2019 traveling levels,” Maladecki said. “It might be considered a temporary setback, but, candidly, I think the real key is going to be the vaccine to open our doors and Central Florida safe and sound, so the traveling public is is convinced that traveling will be healthy experience.”
OIA has resumed a few international flights from the Caribbean, South America and Mexico but the majority remain cancelled.
The airport said for now it would not be making any changes to flight schedules.