American President Joe Biden announced plans to ease restrictions on inbound travel — a move that has drawn praise from US travel industry leaders, calling it a "major step forward".
“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.
The US has been facing growing anger from European nations for clamping down on Covid-19 travel, which saw strict bans on nonessential travel from Europe, despite a growing vaccination rate on the continent.
This also eradicates the 212f restrictions which prevents 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.
According to the new rules, all foreign visitors arriving in US are required to show proof of full vaccination, but this would take effect only in early November to give agencies and airlines sufficient time to prepare and pivot, said the White House statement.
Fully vaccinated foreigners and Americans will have to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test within three days of flight, and show proof of a negative result before boarding. Once in the US, travellers are required to do a viral test (PCR or rapid) within three to five days.
Travellers who are fully vaccinated — including those approved in the US and the World Health Organization — can also skip mandatory quarantine upon arrival.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also be issuing a contact tracing order requiring all airlines to collect information on these travellers entering America.
In this time as US borders prepare to open, the Biden administration will also be focusing on testing, masking up and contact tracing to mitigate the virus' spread.
However, a challenge remains for the Biden administration.
“The next challenge is finding a system to manage the risks for travellers 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 travellers. We must get back to a situation where the freedom to travel is available to all,” said Walsh.