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In recent days and weeks, we’ve seen United Airlines launching free Covid-19 tests on select flights between New York and London and we’ve seen American Airlines and British Airways launching a trial of a series of Covid tests as airlines look to persuade governments to open up travel across the Atlantic. Now Delta is getting in on the act.
Delta has teamed up with Rome and Atlanta airports to offer what they’re calling “a first-of-its-kind trans-Atlantic COVID-19 testing program” that is expected to allow select passengers to enter Italy without being subjected to the country’s current quarantine rules.
From 19 December, Delta will run a trial in which it will offer customers and crew traveling on its newly relaunched flights between Atlanta International Airport and Rome, a series of COVID tests during their journey. To fly on Delta’s COVID-tested flights between Atlanta and Rome, customers will need to test negative for COVID-19 through:
- A COVID Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken up to 72 hours before departure
- A rapid test administered at the airport in Atlanta before boarding
- A rapid test on arrival in Rome-Fiumicino
- A rapid test at Rome-Fiumicino before departure to the United States
- Customers also will be asked to provide information upon entry into the U.S. to support CDC contact-tracing protocols.
It’s key to note that, at this stage, Delta is still awaiting a decree from the Italian government to give this trial the go-ahead and that these tests will not be a way for all US citizens to travel freely to Italy (and therefore Europe). The tests will only exempt from quarantine US citizens who are permitted to travel to Italy for essential reasons, such as work, health, and education. The tests will also exempt from quarantine all European Union and Italian citizens arriving from the United States.
Also, although the trial will include a rapid test before departure to the United States, there is no suggestion in what Delta has said (so far) to indicate that this will permit non-US citizens who have been traveling in Europe to enter the United States.
Dela says that it has engaged expert advisors from the Mayo Clinic to “review and assess the customer-testing protocols needed for Delta to execute a COVID-tested flight program” and, according to the Mayo Clinic’s Chief Value Officer, their modeling has allowed them to conclude that when testing protocols are combined with multiple layers of protection, including mask requirements, proper social distancing, and environmental cleaning, they can predict that the risk of COVID-19 infection – on a flight that is 60 percent full – should be nearly one in a million. There has been no mention of how that probability changes on flights that are carrying higher capacities.
From 19 December, Delta will be running a COVID testing trial on its flights between Atlanta and Rome which, pending confirmation from the Italian Government, will allow select passengers to enter Italy without being subjected to the countries quarantine rules.