Travel agents call for change in international COVID-19 testing policy

You can drive from Mexico or Canada to the United States without proof of a negative COVID-19 test, but you cannot fly into the states without one.

Connecticut and nationwide travel agents say it’s an executive order that needs to change.

“No other country requires this test. Other countries have realized that it will not change the spread of infection and there is no need to leave the country,” said Amanda Klimak, president and co-owner from Largay Travel in Waterbury.

Klimak is also a member of the American Society of Travel Advisors.

She will be with other officers lobbying Capitol Hill for a change later this month.

“Probably one of the most absurd and irrational pieces of legislation I have ever seen in my time,” said Paul Largay, CEO of Largay Travel, whose family business spans three generations.

Largay not only heard about his clients having to quarantine overseas, but he was also in the same boat after disembarking from a river cruise in Lisbon, Portugal.

“And the doctor told me that I had to self-quarantine for seven days. The janitor corrected him and said, “No, no, they changed that to five,” he said. “That’s the biggest frustration we have is that nobody really knows the rules, including the doctors.”

It’s not just the confusion and stress in overseas countries with US policies, but local officials say it’s also impacting business and forcing people to rethink their travels.

Officers here in Connecticut have heard of people falsifying doctors’ notes or even flying into Canada or Mexico and crossing the border to avoid getting stranded overseas because driving in the United States doesn’t require a test like the flight.

“When you come back to the country, no one in the United States checks those test results, it’s all about people overseas when you check in for your flight,” Klimak said.

It’s not just Largay Travel telling us the decree is ineffective.

French’s Worldwide Travel says it’s a nightmare.

And even a Wethersfield travel agent and his family were stuck in Aruba after his daughter tested positive mid-term.

NBC Connecticut contacted the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the executive order.

“At this time, our international travel advice remains the same. The CDC is evaluating all guidelines and orders based on the latest science and the status of the pandemic, and we will communicate any updates publicly if and/or when they change,” a CDC spokesperson said.

“The fact that they have reduced the mask mandate on domestic flights and yet they continue testing, it just doesn’t make sense. I don’t know why a flight from New York to LA doesn’t require testing, but if you’re flying from Paris to New York somehow, it’s a higher risk,” Klimak said.

NBC Connecticut agents have heard the quarantine is costing travelers thousands of dollars to extend their trip.

“It was a great trip, but an unhappy ending,” said Dan DeSoto of Sarasota, Florida.

A birthday and anniversary bucket list adventure in Scotland and Ireland for the DeSotos had a less than desirable end when they got their COVID-19 tests the day before their trip home.

“Low and behold, she comes out positive. I’m negative,” DeSoto said, “So we’re kind of shocked because she has no symptoms.”

Two days later, DeSoto says he tested positive and his wife tested negative, which meant extending their trip a week in quarantine, costing another $5,000 before he could fly home. him.

Largay Travel agents say they have seen other relatives leave loved ones overseas only to catch COVID-19 when they return to the US or quarantine days continue to accumulate in a country stranger because another family member falls ill.

“How do you reconcile that the government will allow people to drive across the border, navigate the country, but if you want to fly into the country you have to test negative. Where is the rational reasoning behind this? “said Largay.

Desoto is the first to tell you he doesn’t want to spread the coronavirus, but he says the rule just doesn’t seem to make sense.

“When I tested negative, I couldn’t get out of the hotel fast enough.”

The travel agents we spoke to say they don’t want to discourage anyone from traveling abroad. They just hope the rule will be changed.

In the meantime, they urge travelers to purchase travel insurance that protects them if they fall ill before or during their trip.

They suggest taking a test before leaving for the trip and halfway through, so if you test positive you can start your quarantine then instead of hours before your flight.

And of course they say having an agent is a plus as they can help you rebook if needed.

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