The United States has announced that it would lift coronavirus travel bans on all air passengers in November provided they are fully vaccinated and undergo testing and contact tracing.
As stated, the easing of travel restrictions, imposed by former president, Donald Trump, 18 months ago when the Covid-19 pandemic first erupted, marks a significant shift by President Joe Biden and answers a major demand from European allies at a time of strained diplomatic relations.
The unprecedented restrictions had kept relatives, friends and business people around the world separated for many months as the pandemic grinds on.
Confirming the development on Monday, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for President Joe Biden, Jeffrey Zients, while briefing journalists on Monday said that the new “consistent approach” would take effect “early November.”
According to him, numerous safeguards will remain in place to suppress spread of the virus, which has already killed more than 670,000 Americans and is resurgent after what many had hoped was a lasting dip earlier this year.
“Most importantly, foreign nationals flying to the US will be required to be fully vaccinated,” Zients said.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the new rule only applied to US-approved vaccines or if other brands, such as those produced in China or Russia would also qualify. Zients said that would be determined by the US Centers for Disease Control.
Restrictions on vehicle movement from Canada and Mexico will remain in place. “We do not have any updates on the land border policies,” Zients said.
Zients said that passengers would need to show they were fully vaccinated before boarding planes to the United States, as well as providing proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days.
According to him, Americans not fully vaccinated will still be able to enter but only on testing negative within a day of travel and masks will be obligatory on US-bound flights and airlines will provide the US health authorities with contact tracing information.
“This new international travel system follows the science to keep Americans’ international air travel safe,” Zients said.
While it had been widely expected that Biden would reopen borders to the European Union and Britain, the announcement covers the globe. “This applies to all international travel,” Zients said.
Currently only US citizens, residents and foreigners with special visas are allowed to enter the United States from most European countries.