MIAMI – Beginning in November, the Biden administration will relax travel restrictions on foreigners who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The decision would reopen the country to tens of thousands of people separated during the pandemic.
According to Jeff Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator, international travelers will need to produce confirmation of immunization before boarding and a negative coronavirus test within three days of arriving in the United States.
Mr. Zients said, “International travel is critical to connecting families and friends, to fueling small and large businesses, to promoting the open exchange [of] ideas and culture. That’s why, with science and public health as our guide, we have developed a new international air travel system that both enhances the safety of Americans here at home and enhances the safety of international air travel.”
Mr. Zients also explained that the changes announced solely affect air travel and have no bearing on controls along the land border.
A Controled Reopening of International Air Travel
Unvaccinated Americans who wish to return home as the holiday season nears will be subjected to more stringent testing. Mr. Zients said they will need to test negative for the coronavirus one day before coming to the United States and produce documentation that they have purchased a test to take once they arrive.
The CDC will also publish an order soon instructing airlines to gather phone numbers and email addresses from passengers for a new contact-tracing system. After that, authorities will contact the travelers to see if they are experiencing any signs of the illness.
For almost two years, the US has prohibited foreigners from a group of European countries, Iran, and China from flying to the country.
In January 2020, the Trump administration began enforcing travel limits against foreign visitors with the intention of reducing disease transmission. After more than a year, the move by Trump resulted in a mass exodus of Americans, with crowded, chaotic airports with porous security inspections, according to the New York Times.
The restrictions were then kept by the Biden administration due to the emergence of the infectious Delta strain this summer, which drove an increase in COVID-19 cases. Now, there seems to be good news on the horizon for international fully vaccinated travelers who have been unable to fly to the US since the beginning of last year.
Featured image: JFK Airport. Photo: Kochan Kleps/Airways