Published December 3, 2021 12:10 PM IST
Throughout the Covid era, passengers traveling to the United States have been required to present a negative Covid test. Until recently, these tests may have been performed as early as three days prior to flights.
On November 8, the United States changed the guidelines. Non-vaccinated travelers became required to present results of Covid tests taken within one calendar day of departure. Vaccinated travelers continued to be allowed to present tests taken within three calendar days.
Now, the CDC has announced changes to these rules. Beginning Monday, December 6, all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to present Covid results taken within one calendar day of travel. The new rules will take effect at 12:01 AM EST on Monday, December 6. Hence, travelers flying out of Israel on Sunday evening will not be subject to the new rules.
The new rules will potentially pose challenges for Sabbath observing travelers departing Israel on late Motzai Shabbat flights. Travelers on flights departing before midnight on Saturday will be able to test as early as 12AM on Friday morning. However, travelers on flights departing after midnight, between Saturday and Sunday, will only be allowed to present tests performed on Saturday. Chaim V’Chessed is in dialogue with airlines, in an effort to move flights up to before midnight.
Regardless, the problem may be alleviated by the fact that the US does accept antigen tests for inbound travel. These are generally cheaper, and results are provided quickly, and could be taken on Motzai Shabbat. Bear in mind that non vaccinated/recovered travelers are required, by Israeli law, to present a negative PCR test, taken within 72 hours of departure. Hence, those travelers may need a PCR taken earlier, plus an antigen test taken after Shabbat.