But the decision provoked criticism and alarm from other corners of the public health field.
Meegan Zikus, a bioethicist at Grand Valley State University in Michigan who is immunocompromised, said lifting the mandate “completely disregards the safety and well-being of people who are at high risk.”
“Lifting Covid testing for international travel entirely negates that there remains a worldwide pandemic,” she said. “The world is exhausted by the pandemic. Trying to pretend that it is over is destructive, ignorant, and hurts those least able to protect themselves.”
But William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that while the change could lead to some new infections in the United States, it would have a considerably smaller effect than other policy decisions, such as lifting mask mandates.
“Travel restrictions make sense when there is a big difference between prevalence and risk when you’re going between points A and B. If there isn’t a big difference, then they are not particularly valuable,” he said. “In many parts of the world, there is now less infection than in the U.S. and you are vastly more likely to be infected in a bar in New York City or elsewhere than you are in most random places overseas.”
The C.D.C. continus to recommend testing for travel.
Some American travelers currently on trips abroad breathed a sigh of relief on Friday. 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.”
Sarah Cahalan contributed reporting.