The US has announced Nov. 8 as the date when the country will allow inbound international travelers who have received a full course of an approved vaccine to enter. The new rules allow visitors who can provide proof of vaccination will not be required to quarantine upon arrival.
The new rules apply to both international arrivals by air and at land borders with Canada and Mexico. Authorized vaccines include the three currently cleared for use by the US Food and Drug Administration – Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and J&J Janssen – as well as all that are on the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing, which includes the widely distributed AstraZeneca vaccine, Covashield, Sinopharm and Sinovac.
Fully vaccinated travelers must still take a pre-departure COVID-19 test within three days of their flight. Arriving passengers will also need to provide phone numbers and contact details for contact tracing, and masks must be worn for the journey to and from the United States.
The policy change, which was announced last month but with no firm date, replaces the current 212f restrictions which prevent anyone from entering the US if they had been in 33 specific countries within the prior 14 days.
Unvaccinated Americans traveling home from abroad will face tougher rules than vaccinated citizens. They will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within a day of travel and are required to purchase a viral test to be taken after arrival.
The US move comes on the heels of the UK government’s announcement that it is simplifying its own rules for inbound travelers. Beginning Oct 4, the new rules scrap the so-called traffic light system and drop the requirements for pre-travel testing for arriving passengers who have completed a full course of an approved vaccine.
Nevertheless, the news from the US came as a surprise to airlines and the wider travel industry, which had been campaigning for it for many months. As recently as July, the Biden administration had decided not to lift travel restrictions amid concerns over the rising number of coronavirus cases in the US and the spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19 delta variant.
“It is great news that the U.S. will reopen its borders to fully-vaccinated travellers from the UK and EU. It has been a long time coming, but the Travel & Tourism businesses on both sides of the Atlantic will be breathing a sigh of relief,” Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, said.
“Visitors from the EU and the UK contributed more than $46 billion to the US economy in 2019, showing just how critical this move will be to the US recovery,” Simpson added. “WTTC believes that governments should axe red lists completely, and instead base the risk on individuals rather than entire countries.”
“In our most recent GBTA pandemic recovery poll, nearly 75 percent of respondents wholeheartedly agree with this particular action,” GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang said in a statement. “International travel is critical to promoting global trade and growing worldwide understanding. It’s a much-needed milestone of support for the business travel sector worth $1.4 trillion to the global economy.”