Carver Arena, left, of Peaks Island checks in at the COVID-19 testing site at Portland International Jetport on Thursday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

United Airlines is the first airline serving Portland International Jetport to notify passengers that they can get tested on arrival for COVID-19 and possibly avoid Maine’s 14-day quarantine mandated for travelers from nonexempt states.

United is sending emails to passengers before they fly, letting them know that the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention set up a testing site this week at the state’s largest airport. The email includes a link to a state-sponsored website where passengers can schedule an appointment to take a free 72-hour test or a $25 rapid test when they arrive.

It’s a helpful step that other airlines are expected to follow, said Zachary Sundquist, assistant airport director.

“We don’t have contact information for passengers coming into the jetport, so notifying passengers of testing capabilities here is a big step in getting the word out,” Sundquist said Thursday.

Sundquist flew into the jetport on Wednesday and received the following email from United in advance:

“Your trip is right around the corner! The state of Maine is offering on-site COVID-19 tests for flights arriving into Portland International Jetport. If interested, schedule an appointment at covidtestforme.com/jetport-la/jetport/. Passengers who receive a negative COVID-19 test result will avoid the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine. We look forward to welcoming you on board soon!”

Sundquist said he took the rapid test when he arrived at the jetport and got an email about an hour later, notifying him that he tested negative for COVID-19.

United has been a leader in the airline industry with its COVID testing pilot programs for testing before flights from San Francisco to Hawaii and from Newark to London, said Paul Bradbury, airport director.

“We really appreciate the partnership to get our testing on arrival message to every inbound passenger on United flights,” Bradbury said.

United wants to make sure passengers know Maine is offering a convenient way to avoid quarantine requirements with an option for testing on arrival, said Maddie King, United spokeswoman.

“As customers travel to different destinations, it is important to us that they know what requirements those states and countries have in place,” King said.

In addition to testing on arrival, passengers can make testing appointments for future outbound and return flights at covidtestforme.com/jetport or by using Quick Response bar codes posted throughout the jetport terminal.

The testing site is funded by the Maine CDC and is open to the general public, whether or not they’re traveling through the jetport, Sundquist said.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that it formed a partnership with Falmouth-based Promerica Health to open the jetport testing site, which operates daily from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. It’s one of more than two dozen “swab and send” sites that the agency has opened across Maine.

“The state of Maine and Promerica Health have been great partners in launching this testing on arrival facility,” Sundquist said. “We are working with all of our airlines to assist in getting the information out, and really appreciate United responding so rapidly and being our first fully integrated carrier.”

All airlines servicing the jetport are expected to follow United’s lead in the weeks ahead, Sundquist said.

“We all have a vested interest in making air travel as safe as possible,” he said.

Under Maine law, most out-of-state travelers coming into Maine, as well as Maine residents returning to Maine, must complete a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. That means they are expected to stay at home or isolated from others, having food stocked up or delivered. Travelers from New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts are exempt from this mandate.

Adults who have a negative COVID-19 antigen or molecular test (not an antibody test) no more than 72 hours before arriving in Maine may forgo the 14-day quarantine upon arriving in Maine.

Travelers who don’t have a test result upon arrival must quarantine until they get a negative result; those tested upon arrival in Maine must quarantine while waiting for results.

Residents of nonexempt states who visit Maine will be asked to sign a Certificate of Compliance indicating either that they have received a negative COVID-19 test result, that they will quarantine in Maine for 14 days, or that they have already completed their quarantine in Maine.

The compliance form must be provided when checking in at all hotels and lodging places. Visitors may be asked to furnish proof of the negative test result upon request.


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