Can Home Covid Tests Solve Your Travel Woes?

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SPRING IS ALMOST here, and if your escape fantasies run to more than a short drive to Aunt Susie’s in the Poconos, odds are you’ll be booking a Covid-19 test along with your air tickets. Many destinations—Hawaii, Maine, most of the Caribbean and even Aspen, Colo.—will let you avoid a quarantine if you’ve recently tested negative for the virus. But you might need to submit to multiple tests during your getaway. A post-arrival screen is required in some places, including Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jordan and Rwanda. If you’re abroad, the U.S. State Department specifies that everyone returning to the U.S. show proof of a negative Covid-19 test. Although more people are getting inoculated against the virus, a vaccine alone won’t ensure access to most destinations, including the U.S.

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One way to avoid endless clinic visits? Self-administered Covid tests you can take at home or in your hotel. Last year the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began greenlighting DIY tests under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), while other options come with a seal of approval from airlines: Delta, for example, has teamed with Azova (azovahealth.com/test/delta), which offers home saliva tests for travelers for $119 or $115 at some

Costco

locations. Both require a video observation call during the actual test, insisted upon by some destinations. You can even double up on kits, packing one in your bag in case you need a second one.

Hawaii has also begun a pilot program with biometrics company Clear, whose Health Pass app lets travelers access at-home tests, as well as in-person test locations, from a list of approved providers. The app also allows users to whisk results directly to the airline on which they’re flying to the Aloha state.

Airports in Paris and Singapore as well as airlines including United and JetBlue are experimenting with apps that verify travelers are Covid-free before boarding. WSJ visits an airport in Rome to see how a digital health passport works. Photo credit: AOKpass

Other home test services include LabCorp’s Pixel and Vault, to which the

JetBlue

website refers fliers. Customers sign up online to get the test kit and a return envelope to send the sample—nasal swab or saliva, depending on the type you order—back to the lab. Results are usually posted within 48 to 72 hours after you’ve taken the test.

Take care that your test meets the requirements at your destination; many request a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) lab test, although the more rapid antigen version is now more widely accepted. An even faster way to dispense with testing might soon be available: The FDA has recently approved new tests that will deliver results at home in 30 minutes—eliminating the agonizing wait for a timely result. As of now, however, it’s unclear when—or if—they’ll be accepted by travel destinations.

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