In recent months, as countries across Europe lifted travel restrictions and more Americans traveled abroad, many of them had to self-isolate after testing positive before returning home. The C.D.C. recommends travelers isolate and delay travel for 10 days regardless of symptoms or a negative test taken within the isolation period. Some people who did not want to wait that long used a “backdoor” route, returning home via land borders with Canada and Mexico, which do not require a coronavirus test.
For Mr. Biden, the decision to drop the requirement is welcome news at a time that the administration is struggling on a series of fronts. White House officials described the decision as a validation of the president’s efforts to aggressively combat the virus.
The C.D.C. decision was important and overdue, said Dr. Luciana Borio, a former acting chief scientist at the Food and Drug Administration who also oversaw public health preparedness for the National Security Council. She said that federal scientists had to continue considering the goals of the pandemic response and how effective certain interventions are. Most transmission, she said, was occurring domestically.
“If the idea is to minimize the number of Covid cases in this country, the impact of entrance screening is negligible,” she said. “We are at a point where we have the tools to minimize morbidity and mortality associated with the virus. We should be focusing on the measures most effective.”
The rule, she added, also “disproportionately impacts people who can’t afford to be stuck in an international country.”
Some American travelers currently on trips abroad breathed a sigh of relief on Friday amid fears that they would test positive and get stuck. Lucia Torres, 39, who is booked to fly home to Florida from Spain on Tuesday with her husband said she canceled some activities planned for the last days of her vacation because she was worried she would test positive before her flight home. She and her husband are vaccinated and boosted.
“When we booked our vacation we decided to take the risk, but we haven’t been able to completely relax because it’s always in our heads,” she said. “Now we don’t have to worry, I can book a massage, go to a party, do whatever people do on vacation.”
Noah Weiland, Maria Cramer and Sarah Cahalan contributed reporting.