People planning to fly to the US just after Christmas Day have their plans thrown into disarray as a result of changes in testing requirements for travelers arriving there.
As concerns grew about the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a major change to the rules for international travelers.
As a result, from Monday, all international travelers to the US will be required to have a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours prior to departure regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated.
In addition to accepting PCR test results, the United States continues to allow professionally performed rapid antigen tests to be used as evidence that a traveler has not contracted the virus. The last tests can be performed within 15 minutes.
However, with testing centers in Ireland closed on Christmas Day, anyone planning to travel to the United States on Saint Stephen’s Day may struggle to obtain a test that meets the necessary requirements.
Aer Lingus has two flights from Dublin Airport to New York on December 26, one scheduled to depart at 6.40 am and the other at 11.35 am. Meanwhile, a flight for Boston departs at 2.05 p.m. There is also an Aer Lingus flight to Chicago from Dublin at 11.35 am.
Assuming that people need to complete their tests in full at least four hours before they leave – to allow them enough time to make their way through the airport and through US immigration – they will need to take the tests either on Christmas Day or early. On the morning of December 26th.
The RocDoc Test Center at Dublin Airport is usually open between 8am and 7pm, but is closed on Christmas Day. No reservations taken for December 26th yet.
Meanwhile, the Randox Test Center operates normal business hours from 2 AM to 11 PM, but is closed on Christmas Day and the closest available Saint Stephen’s Day slot for a rapid antigen test is 10.40 AM.
It’s going to be hard for people, » said Dr Simon Collins, who runs the Travel Health clinic on Dawson Street in Dublin. “If they want to travel on the 26th, they will have to take the test on the 25th or as early as the 26th and I think people will have to make decisions about whether they want to do that or not, and there may be a lot of empty seats in the Some trips.
Josh Barnes is scheduled to travel to the United States on St. Stephen’s Day to visit family he hasn’t seen in two years.
Initially the plan was for him, his wife and three children to travel, but with Covid-19 still a major problem and no vaccinations for his children, the family decided he would be traveling alone.
He is due to fly from his home in Donegal on Christmas Eve to make his trip.
He booked and paid for a test with Randox in Letterkenny for December 23, but a rule change has him scrambling for options.
« As it is now, I don’t see a way to succeed, » he told The Irish Times. « I did everything I was supposed to do and then the world turned and now I’m out of luck and there don’t seem to be any options. »
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