Coronavirus: Air Travel Restrictions

image of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

As U.S. federal, state and local public health agencies attempt to contain the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), several travel restrictions impacting the aviation sector have been and will continue to be implemented. These restrictions are summarized in the below timeline, which will be regularly updated by KMA Zuckert as developments unfold:

  • January 31, 2020: By presidential proclamation, the U.S. suspends indefinitely the entry of most aliens who have been present within the People’s Republic of China, with the exception of Hong Kong and Macau (i.e., Mainland China), during the 14 days preceding their attempted entry into the United States. U.S. legal permanent residents (LPRs), immediate family of either LPRs or U.S. citizens, aliens traveling as crew, and a handful of other visa categories are exempted from the entry restrictions. 
  • February 2, 2020: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues a Notice of Arrival Restrictions (NAR). Under the NAR, all inbound U.S. flights transporting passengers who recently have been present in Mainland China (i.e., 14 days of their attempted entry into the U.S.) and are not otherwise inadmissible under the January 31st proclamation are required to land at either JFK, ORD, SFO, SEA, HNL, LAX, ATL, IAD, EWR, DFW, or DTW, where U.S. officials have established enhanced health screening measures. Airline crew are exempted. 
  • February 7, 2020: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues an Interim Final Rule (IFR) with immediate effect, requiring all airlines, with respect to passengers and crew aboard flights inbound to the U.S., to collect, and retain for transmittal to the CDC upon the issuance of an appropriate order, the following information: address while in the U.S.; primary and secondary phone contact numbers; and email address. The purposes of the collection and (if requested) transmittal is to allow CDC and other public health agencies to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing of persons suspected of having contracted the virus. 
  • February 18, 2020: CDC issues an Order requiring airlines, with respect to any inbound U.S. flight carrying a passenger who has been present in Mainland China within 14 days of his or her attempted entry into the U.S. and who is not otherwise inadmissible under the January 31st proclamation, to transmit the contact information identified in the February 7th IFR. The information must be transmitted through existing, technical channels for delivery to CDC within two hours of the flight’s departure. 
  • February 29, 2020: By presidential proclamation, the U.S. suspends indefinitely the entry of most aliens who have been present within Iran, during the 14 days preceding their attempted entry into the United States, with similar exceptions as those provided for in the January 31st proclamation (Mainland China). 
  • March 2, 2020: DHS issues an NAR requiring all inbound U.S. flights transporting passengers who recently have been present in Iran (i.e., within 14 days of their attempted entry into the U.S.) and who are not otherwise inadmissible under the February 29th proclamation to land at the same 11 U.S. gateway airports applicable to passengers who recently have been present in Mainland China. Airline crew are exempted. 
  • March 11, 2020: By presidential proclamation, the U.S. suspends, for at least 30 days, the entry of most aliens who have been present within any of the 26 European countries comprising the Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland) during the 14 days preceding their attempted entry into the United States, with similar exceptions as those provided for in the January 31st proclamation (Mainland China) and the February 29th proclamation (Iran).
  • March 13, 2020: DHS issues an NAR requiring all inbound U.S. flights transporting passengers who recently have been present in the Schengen Area (i.e., within 14 days of their attempted entry into the U.S.) and who are not otherwise inadmissible under the March 11th proclamation to land at the previously-designated 11 U.S. gateway airports applicable to passengers who recently have been present in Mainland China or Iran. Through this notice, DHS adds two new airports to the designated list, BOS and MIA. Airline crew are exempted.
  • March 14, 2020: By presidential proclamation, the U.S. suspends indefinitely the entry of most aliens who have been present within the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, during the 14 days preceding their attempted entry into the United States, with similar exceptions as those provided for in the January 31st proclamation (Mainland China), the February 29th proclamation (Iran), and the March 11th proclamation (Schengen Area countries).
  • March 16, 2020: DHS issues an NAR requiring all inbound U.S. flights transporting passengers who recently have been present in the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland (i.e., within 14 days of their attempted entry into the U.S.) and who are not otherwise inadmissible under the March 14th proclamation to land at the same 13 U.S. gateway airports applicable to passengers who recently have been present in the other regions subject to arrival restrictions (Mainland China, Iran, the Schengen Area countries).
  • March 20, 2020: CDC issues an IFR with immediate effect, establishing procedures for the CDC to suspend, by order, the “introduction into the United States” of persons from designated foreign countries or places (including by any U.S. or foreign carrier, to include ships, aircraft, trains, road vehicles, or other means of transport) to the extent necessary for the public health. U.S citizens, lawful permanent residents or certain members of the armed forces of the U.S. and associated personnel of the Department of Defense are excluded.
  • March 23, 2020: The FAA approves a request from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to restrict entry of passengers traveling to Puerto Rico to specific airports in order to centralize screening of passengers for COVID-19. Effective at 11:59 pm on March 24, 2020, all scheduled and unscheduled commercial air carrier flights are required to land at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU), while all domestic and foreign general aviation and charter flights arriving from a location outside Puerto Rico are required to land first at SJU, Isla Grande Airport (SIG) or Rafael Hernandez Airport (BQN) for passenger screening before continuing to their final destinations. The restrictions do not apply to cargo-only flights.
  • April 22, 2020: State and Local Restrictions on Flight Training During Public Health Emergencies
  • May 24, 2020: By presidential proclamation, the U.S. suspends indefinitely the entry of most aliens who have been present within the Federative Republic of Brazil, during the 14 days preceding their attempted entry into the United States, with similar exceptions as those provided for in the January 31st proclamation (Mainland China), the February 29th proclamation (Iran), the March 11th proclamation (Schengen Area countries), and the March 14th proclamation (United Kingdom and Ireland). This presidential proclamation takes effect at 11:59 p.m. on May 26, 2020.
  • May 26, 2020: DHS issues an NAR requiring all inbound U.S. flights transporting passengers who recently have been present in the Federative Republic of Brazil (i.e., within 14 days of their attempted entry into the U.S.) and who are not otherwise inadmissible under the May 24th proclamation to land at the same 13 U.S. gateway airports applicable to passengers who recently have been present in the other regions subject to arrival restrictions (Mainland China, Iran, the Schengen Area countries, the UK, and Ireland). Through this Notice, DHS adds two additional airports to the designated list, FLL and IAH. Airline crew and flights carrying only cargo are exempted from this Notice.
  • July 14, 2020: FAA Grant Assurances – Recent Developments and the COVID-19 Pandemic (July 2020).