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Travellers from Europe to US face tougher Covid test restrictions

All travellers from Europe to the United States now have to provide a negative Covid test before boarding the plane.

 sign promotes a COVID-19 testing location located inside the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles
US imposes new Covid test rule on travellers from Europe. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP

Travellers from Europe to the United States are from December 6th required to provide a negative Covid test before boarding the plane, under new rules announced by the White House last week.

The White House said that all travellers to the US – vaccinated or not – would need to provide a negative Covid test carried out within one day of departure. The rules took effect at 5:01am GMT (or 6:01am in Denmark) on Monday and apply to all non-citizens and non-US residents.

Previously, vaccinated travellers from Europe could present a negative test result obtained within three days of their time of departure. For unvaccinated travellers the requirement was a negative test within one day.

The new one-day testing requirement would apply equally to US citizens as well as foreign nationals arriving in the US. It applies to any traveller over the age of 2.

The pre-travel period for which a test is valid has been set as 1 day rather than 24 hours.

According to the CDC: “For example, if your flight is at 1pm on a Friday, you could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Thursday.”

The US has accepted both the antigenic and PCR tests for the purpose of travel.

The US, which reported its first case of the Omicron variant on Wednesday last week, said on Monday cases have now been found in 16 states. But it has stopped short of imposing mandatory quarantine on arrivals.

“Our doctors believe tightening testing requirements for pre-departure will help catch more cases, potential cases of people who may be positive and inside the country,” a senior administration official last week told CNBC. “And so now is the right time to do it. And we can implement it very quickly.”

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TRAVEL NEWS

When will Germany’s €49 ticket start?

Germany announced a €49 monthly ticket for local and regional public transport earlier this month, but the hoped-for launch date of January 2023 looks increasingly unlikely.

When will Germany's €49 ticket start?

Following the popularity of the €9 train ticket over the summer, the German federal and state governments finally agreed on a successor offer at the beginning of November.

The travel card – dubbed the “Deutschlandticket” – will cost €49 and enable people to travel on regional trains, trams and buses up and down the country.

There had been hopes that the discount travel offer would start up in January 2023, but that now seems very unlikely.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s €49 ticket

Martin Burkert, Head of the German Rail and Transport Union (EVG) now expects the €49 ticket to be introduced in the spring.

“From our point of view, it seems realistic to introduce the Deutschlandticket on April 1st, because some implementation issues are still unresolved”, Burkert told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. The Association of German Transport Companies, on the other hand, considers the beginning of March to be a realistic start date.

The only thing that seems clear regarding the start date is that it will be launched at some point in 2023.

Why the delay?

Financing for the ticket is continuing to cause disagreements between the federal and state governments and, from the point of view of the transport companies, financing issues are also still open.

Burkert from EVG said that the federal government should be prepared to provide more than €1.5 billion for the ticket if necessary.

“Six months after the launch of the Deutschlandticket at the latest, the federal government must evaluate the costs incurred to date with the states and, if necessary, provide additional funding,” he said. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why Germany’s €49 travel ticket is far better than the previous €9 ticket

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bahn has warned that the network is not prepared to cope with extra demand. 

Berthold Huber, the member of the Deutsche Bahn Board of Management responsible for infrastructure, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that a big part of the problem is the network is “structurally outdated” and its “susceptibility to faults is increasing.” 

Accordingly, Huber said that there is currently “no room for additional trains in regional traffic around the major hub stations” and, while adding more seats on trains could be a short terms solution, “here, too, you run up against limits,” Huber said.

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