United and Delta will require passengers traveling from the United Kingdom to the United States to present proof of a negative coronavirus test, the airlines announced on Thursday. Delta will begin enforcing the rule today, and United will begin the requirement on Dec. 28. The airlines will accept both rapid antigen and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
The changes come after British officials imposed lockdowns and banned holiday gatherings earlier this week because of a fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus. Canada and some nations in Europe have moved to ban travel from England altogether.
“Beginning December 28, United customers traveling from London Heathrow to Chicago, Newark, Washington Dulles and San Francisco will be required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no later than 72 hours prior to departure,” United said in a statement. “The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority.” United is requiring the tests for all passengers over the age of five.
Delta also requires the test result be less than 72 hours old. Passengers flying from the United Kingdom to the United States, or transiting through the country, will be required to show the test before boarding, a spokesperson for Delta said in an email. The airline will require the negative tests from all travelers over the age of six.
On its website, Delta states that passengers who are not traveling from the United Kingdom, and are only transiting through the U.K. on a layover, will be exempt. On Monday, Delta moved to require health screenings on U.K. flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy lauded the strengthened health protocols for U.K. visitors, saying in a statement: “As we continue to experience a second wave of COVID-19 cases, it’s critical that we take any and all precautions to mitigate the potential for further transmission.”