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It’s a date! The White House is finally lifting the US travel ban for vaccinated international travelers coming from the EU, UK, and other countries on November 8, 2021.
The travel restrictions were initially imposed on travelers coming from China when the pandemic first broke out in January 2020. Months passed and more countries were eventually added to the list which was Brazil, Iran, South Africa, India, Europe’s Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland. The same initiative was carried out by the Biden administration entering 2021.
This policy was raised so many eyebrows since travelers from about 150 countries, which still had rising cases, were not included in the ban and freely entered the US with fewer restrictions.
It was only in September 2021 when the government released a statement regarding plans of lifting the restrictions from the banned list early in November 2021, and finally, the announcement was made an announcement on Friday (October 15, 2021).
Changes Made To The US Travel Ban
Regardless of vaccination status, the old rule bars entry to non-US citizens who have been in the following countries/areas within the last 14 days:
- European Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City)
- United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
- Republic of Ireland
- South Africa
Coming November 8, the new rule will allow fully vaccinated non-US citizens from the said countries to enter the US, provided that they present proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours before their flight.
Unvaccinated returning US citizens and permanent residents can still enter the US as long as they present a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of travel or a document that states full recovery from Covid-19. This rule applies to people ages 2 years and above. Quarantine periods for both foreign nationals and US citizens will not be required as well.
The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that only people with vaccines that are FDA approved or granted a WHO Emergency Use Listing will be eligible to enter the US. Emergency Use vaccines include UK’s AstraZeneca and China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines. The CDC also mentioned that new contract tracing protocols for international travelers will soon be announced.
Meanwhile, domestic travel in the US is less strict these days but there has been news circling around that vaccine mandates might be implemented for travelers following the FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Corporate and government organizations are have already started implementing vaccine mandates for their employees.
Lifting The US Travel Ban Can Revive The Airline Industry
During the height of the pandemic, the entire airline industry was down due to numerous travel restrictions, and major airline companies like Delta, United, and American have cut their operations down to a minimum just to maintain financial stability. In-flight food was removed, lounges were closed, seat capacity was reduced, and many more.
However, we’ve seen some signs of life these past months because these “BIG 3” airline companies have started to offer back their services to flyers. Delta has been improving its in-flight services and entertainment by partnering with renowned chefs and major entertainment companies, United has reintroduced hot meals on their Hawaii routes, and American has also added lounge access for passengers flying to Hawaii.
Airlines for America Chief Executive Nick Calio said that airline companies have seen a spike in international ticket sales following the White House’s September announcement regarding the plans of lifting the US travel ban.
With November 8 nearing, the airline industry should expect more sales coming as the year ends. Calio said the “full reopening of international travel is also critical to reviving economies around the globe, reinvigorating communities and supporting millions of jobs in the U.S. and abroad.”
US Vaccination Requirements For Foreign Nationals Entering By Land
Essential travelers such as returning US citizens/permanent residents, truck drivers, students, and medical workers were never banned from crossing land borders. The current rule only bans non-essential travelers from entering by land.
On October 12, the White House made a new announcement that vaccinated non-US citizens can enter the US by land or by ferry starting in early November. Unvaccinated travelers are still not allowed to enter. However, the new rule will also require proof of vaccination for both essential and non-essential travelers starting January 2022.
Vaccination Requirements For US Citizens Traveling Internationally
US citizens and permanent residents, who have plans to travel to other countries, should check the respective travel protocols of their intended destination. Different countries have different protocols that constantly change based on the number of active Covid-19 cases in their countries. You can check our travel guide for international travel for US citizens here.
International travel has been in a steady decline since the Covid-19 outbreak in January 2020, and it has resulted in a loss of about $250 billion in the travel industry. U.S. Travel Association Chief Executive Roger Dow said that the November 8 announcement “is critically important for planning – for airlines, for travel-supported businesses, and for millions of travelers worldwide who will now advance plans to visit the United States once again.”
Currently, only 36% of the world’s population is fully vaccinated, and based on that statistic alone, it might take a long time before international travel returns to normal. However, with the US government’s move of opening its borders to more countries, hopefully, other countries will also do the same.
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