At long last, the US travel ban on foreign nationals will be lifted from early November – ending 18 months of transatlantic travel uncertainty, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients announced Monday.
Double-jabbed passengers will need to have a Covid test within three days of departure and will not be required to quarantine upon arrival.
These 33 countries are currently banned from US travel
Zients told reporters the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will determine which vaccines qualify for travel.
The new rules affect 33 countries whose nationals are currently banned from traveling to the states.
The news coincides with the UN General Assembly in NYC – where both President Biden and British PM Boris Johnson will speak. Johnson was expected to press Biden to lift the restrictions on Tuesday.
The news comes as the Biden administration looks to repair is relationships across Europe. It came out of the blue after the US-UK-Australia submarine trade deal that enraged France last week. European officials also expressed frustration over the US’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last month.
The move will mark the end of intense negotiation between London and Washington after the UK and EU lifted their bans on American visitors – but this was not reciprocated by DC.
Britain’s ambassador to the US expressed delight at the news.
‘Today’s travel announcement is great news for families and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. We are grateful the US has recognized the progress the UK has made against COVID-19, including high vaccination rates and declining cases. This decision means that more Brits can reunite with loved ones in the United States, more British holidaymakers can spend their hard-earned pounds in the American tourism sector, and more business activity can boost both of our economies,’ Karen Pierce said in a statement.
Under current travel policy, only American citizens, their immediate families, green card holders and those with national interest exemptions are allowed to travel to the US, though other nations have higher vaccination rates and lower Covid-19 case counts.
But around 82 percent of Britons age 16 and older have been fully vaccinated, while only 66 percent of Americans 18 and older have been double-jabbed.
Sixty-four percent of Americans of all ages have received at least one vaccine, and around 54 percent are fully inoculated.
The White House’s new travel policies will include stricter testing requirements for unvaccinated Americans wishing to return to the US.
Meanwhile, US land borders between Canada and Mexico will remain closed for at least another month, through Oct. 21.
Even as international travel restrictions remained, Americans still took their holidays. TSA conducted around 7 million security screenings over Labor Day weekend in the US earlier this month, up from around 3.2 million over last September’s holiday weekend.
Covid-19 travel restrictions were first implemented in January 2020, when former President Trump suspended travel from China. Two months later, he banned travel from the EU and UK.
According to the Financial Times, Biden is due to unveil a new policy imminently that would apply to EU and British travellers from November
Even as international travel restrictions remained, Americans still took their holidays. TSA conducted around 7 million security screenings over Labor Day weekend in the US earlier this month
Biden for months has maintained strict closures for foreign travelers, drawing frustration from European governments as they brought down case counts and reached high levels of vaccination.
The European Union began allowing US travelers in late July, only to reverse course and take the US off the safe travel list the following month. The move was said to be partly fueled by anger at the lack of reciprocation from Washington.