The Biden administration will allow fully vaccinated travelers from certain countries to enter the United States from early November, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday.
The decision opens travel to the US for many who have been locked out for the past 18 months as it overthrows the restrictions, taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19), which prevented anyone from entering the US if they had been in 33 specific countries including all Schengen countries in Europe – such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Greece, the UK, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, India, and China within the last 14 days.
New rules in November
According to the new rules, travelers will be required to show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 prior to boarding an airplane to the US. With regard to which vaccines will qualify, the White House said that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will decide.
Travelers will also have to show a negative Covid-19 test result performed within 72 hours prior to travel.
Vaccinated travelers will not be required to quarantine upon arrival.
Morever, the new rules also see unvaccinated US citizens traveling from abroad having to present a negative COVID-19 test taken one day prior to travel. They must also test for Covid-19 again after arrival in the United States.
EU, IATA, WTTC welcome the news
The news was welcomed on Twitter by the European Commission referring to “a long-awaited step for separated families & friends”, and good news for business travel.
“We’ll continue working for safe travel,” the Commission said.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the decision by the Biden Administration saying that the announcement was “a major” step forward.
“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,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh said, adding that the decision will boost key business travel markets.
Walsh added that the 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,” he said.
WTTC: Decision could generate $198m into US economy every day
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) said the US 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,” WTTC President & CEO Julia Simpson said.
According to the WTTC’s data, visitors from the EU to the US 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,” Simpson said, adding that the WTTC strongly advocates for fully vaccinated citizens to be able to travel freely and safely, irrespective of where they’re travelling from.
US still off EU safe travel list
Meanwhile, the European Council on August 30 removed the US from its list of safe third countries for non-essential travel into the EU due to the surge in Covid-19 infections.
Although the Council’s recommendation is not a legally binding instrument, some countries reintroduced bans on visitors from the US (such as Sweden and Bulgaria), others allow only vaccinated travelers to enter (such as Germany and Spain) and some still welcome US travelers without additional restrictions to rules already in place for arrivals from non-EU countries (such as Greece).
Following the Monday’s US decision to lift Covid-19 travel restrictions from EU countries, the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association (ECTAA) urged EU countries to open their borders to all vaccinated US travelers to Europe.
🇺🇲 set to allow vaccinated
European and British travelers from November 2021. @ECTAAEurope calls on 🇪🇺 to open borders to all vaccinated US travelers to Europe. #businesstravel #safetravel #restarttourism
— ECTAA Europe (@ECTAAEurope) September 20, 2021