The world is reopening in many cases, but regardless of vaccination status, many still require a negative COVID-19 test. But where do you get a covid test for travel?
Reopening, Travel Returning
If you listened to any investor calls from the airlines (most reported this week) you’ll find that travel is indeed returning. Iceland, Greece, and Croatia all received new flights from United this week for the summer. France has announced plans to welcome back Americans that are fully vaccinated. Israel, who has a nearly fully vaccinated population is reopening as well, American has already slated flights from both New York JFK, and Miami.
American also indicated it will have 100% of seat capacity to Latin America from 2019 levels.
Requirements Remain In Place
Countries around the world are reopening, especially for tourists with a vaccine, however, not all requirements have changed even for those who have been vaccinated for months. For those brandishing their vaccination documents or hoping for a renewed passport (health criteria only), they will still be subjected to the same antigen tests as those who have not.
Testing requirements are also trickier with a vaccine as those who have had the shots recently may be “shedding” the virus and test positive for an extended period. Those who had the virus but recovered in the last 90 days may still need a doctor’s note to negate a positive result.
Sadly, even those who test positive for the antibodies (regardless of vaccination status) still must test negative for COVID despite the presence of antibodies being proof that the person has had the virus and recovered.
Where To Get a Covid Test For Travel
Before signing up for your next trip, you should first know what type of testing and protocol is required. For example, even following a negative result prior to boarding, another negative is required in Thailand, and even then quarantine for some areas extends to 14 days further. Luckily, Thailand is not the norm.
Almost every country (including the US) requires a PCR or antigen test for entry and even some states within the US.
Pharmacy PCR Tests
Most pharmacies carry PCR tests and will conduct them for you. CVS, RiteAid, and Walgreens in the United States are the most ubiquitous, but even grocery stores that also have pharmacies like Publix in Florida, or Kroger (and its many, many brands) have them available. Some of those locations are drive-throughs with no charge to customers. There are also many trusted testing sites nationwide outside of pharmacies and some governments will provide the service free at affiliated testing locations.
Test results are populated between 24-48 hours. Most locales require a negative PCR test within 72 hours of your flight.
Either due to false-positive results, uncertain results, or poor planning, Rapid tests are available at major airports throughout the US. These tests offer results with remarkably fast turnaround times (just 15 minutes in most cases) and can be conducted inside the terminal, in some cases, at the departure gate itself.
These tests are more expensive (about $180 vs. $75-100) and less accurate which may result in the need for additional tests or postponing plans at the last minute.
Some airlines are selling at-home viral tests. Both American Airlines and British Airways offer COVID-19 tests shipped to a traveler’s home prior to departure. This option makes testing much safer (for those concerned with public interactions) and convenient (they can be returned at the traveler’s leisure.
However, one concern with home tests is accurately calculating the transit time for the tests, and associated processing time. Most countries that permit travel require within 72 hours of departure which leads to a number of conditions to be met in sequence to align with travel plans.
One concern that many travelers have is where to find a COVID test “near me” but the at-home tests offer the best solution to the problem of not being able to find an adequate service nearby.
As the world reopens and travel resumes, getting a reliable COVID test is becoming ever more important. There are a range of options for where to get a COVID test and a variety of styles but choosing the best one for you may be difficult. Consider your options, costs, and reliability of the test itself prior to selecting a PCR test that suits the country’s travel requirements.
Separately, as other Boarding Area bloggers have pointed out in recent weeks, the time has likely come to reconsider processes and policies for these tests and the requirements associated therein. Mass vaccination, as well as mass recovery of former patients with active antibodies, make these tests less and less of a necessity, and perhaps they should be reconsidered entirely.
What do you think? Do you have a testing preference that you prefer? Where have you been tested for COVID-19?