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US to Lift Restrictions on Fully Vaccinated International Travelers

Vaccinated travelers accepted

The United States will lift travel restrictions starting in November on foreigners who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

White House announced that foreign travelers will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding and a negative test for the coronavirus within three days before coming to the United States.

Jeff Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator told reporters that a new international air travel system has been created for both to enhance the safety of Americans here at home and enhance the safety of international air travel. 

The administration has restricted travel for foreigners looking to fly to the United States from a group of European countries, Iran and China for more than a year.

Fully vaccinated foreign nationals and American citizens returning to the United States from abroad will be required to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test within three days of their flight, and show proof of a negative result before boarding. Unvaccinated Americans returning to the US will be "subject to stricter testing requirements," Zients said, including a test within one day of departure and an additional test when they return.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also soon issue an order directing airlines to collect phone numbers and email addresses of travelers for a new contact-tracing system. Authorities will then follow up with the travelers after arrival to ask whether they are experiencing symptoms of the virus. Airlines will be required to keep contact tracking information for 30 days.

The Trump administration began implementing travel bans against foreign travelers in January 2020 in the hopes of preventing the spread of disease.

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow commented, "The U.S. Travel Association applauds the Biden administration’s announcement of a roadmap to reopen air travel to vaccinated individuals from around the world, which will help revive the American economy and protect public health.

"This is a major turning point in the management of the virus and will accelerate the recovery of the millions of travel-related jobs that have been lost due to international travel restrictions.

"The U.S. Travel Association expresses its deep appreciation to the President and his advisors – in particular Commerce Secretary Raimondo, who has been a tireless advocate – for working with the industry to develop a plan to restart international travel and safely reconnect America with the world."

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said, “The U.S. lifting travel restrictions to restore transatlantic travel between the EU and the U.K. is welcome news - not only for hard-pressed airlines, but for the wider Travel & Tourism sector, which has been decimated by COVID-19. 

"It will finally enable families to reunite, business travellers to resume face-to-face meetings and events, and for Travel & Tourism to return, providing a major boost to these economies.

"Visitors from the EU to the U.S contributed more than $35 billion to the economy in 2019, and UK visitors more than $11 billion, showing just how critical this move will be to the nation’s economy.

"WTTC has long-been calling for the U.S. to reopen and our research shows that this measure could pump US$198 million back into the U.S. economy every single day. 

"WTTC strongly advocates for fully vaccinated citizens to be able to travel freely and safely, irrespective of where they’re travelling from.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the decision by the Biden Administration to enable vaccinated travelers to enter the US with a negative COVID-19 test result prior to travel from early November. Importantly, this supersedes the so-called 212f restrictions which prevented anyone from entering the US if they had been in 33 specific countries including the UK, Ireland, all Schengen countries, Brazil, South Africa, India, and China within the last 14 days.

“Today’s announcement is a major step forward. Allowing access to the US for those vaccinated will open travel to the US for many who have been locked out for the past 18 months. This is excellent news for families and loved ones who have suffered through the heartache and loneliness of separation. It’s good for the millions of livelihoods in the US that depend on global tourism. And it will boost the economic recovery by enabling some key business travel markets,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

“This announcement marks a key shift in managing the risks of COVID-19 from blanket considerations at the national level to assessment of individual risk. The next challenge is finding a system to manage the risks for travelers who do not have access to vaccinations. Data points to testing as a solution. But it is also critical that governments accelerate the global rollout of vaccines and agree a global framework for travel where testing resources are focused on unvaccinated travelers. We must get back to a situation where the freedom to travel is available to all,” said Walsh.

GBTA CEO, Suzanne Neufang said, The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) wholeheartedly applauds the Biden Administration’s announcement that it will relax the U.S. ban for vaccinated travelers from the 26 Schengen countries, U.K. and Ireland by early November.

Travel bans and quarantines have greatly impacted business travel – a decline in global business travel spending for 2021 is forecast at approximately $550 billion USD, with a decline in the U.S. estimated at $192 billion USD, due to the ongoing pandemic.

GBTA has been calling for a framework for re-opening the U.S. to impacted international travelers for months. Today’s announcement is welcome news and a large step forward in re-starting and accelerating the travel industry’s economic engine."

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