On Monday, the United States announced to lift Covid-related travel restrictions on all air passengers in November for fully vaccinated people and undergo testing and contact tracing.
The unprecedented restrictions that came after the pandemic started kept several people worldwide separated for many months as the pandemic grinds on.
Coronavirus response coordinator for President Joe Biden, Jeffrey Zients, said that a new consistent approach would be practical from November. The easing of travel restrictions, imposed by former president Donald Trump 18 months ago as the pandemic first started, marks a significant shift by Biden and answered a strong demand from European partners at a time of strained diplomatic relations.
Foreign nationals flying to the US will be required to be fully vaccinated. However, it was unclear if the new rule only applied to US-approved vaccines or other vaccines would also qualify. Zients said the US Centers for Disease Control would determine that. Restrictions on vehicle movement from Canada and Mexico will remain in place.
US residents with no complete vaccination will be allowed to enter the country after covid testing. Additionally, the mask will be mandatory on all US-bound flights, and airlines will provide the US health authorities information for contact tracing.
The decision was welcomed by airlines, as travel restrictions have had a massive impact during the pandemic shutdown. The trade group, Airlines For Europe, stated the announcement as “a much-needed boost to trans-Atlantic traffic & tourism and will reunite families and friends.”
While many people had widely expected that president Biden would reopen borders to the European Union and Britain, the announcement covers the globe.
Only US citizens, residents, and foreigners with special visas can enter the US from most European countries.
The announcement to ease travel restrictions comes before Biden’s speech to the annual UN General Assembly in New York, where the pandemic is the headline issue.
Another reason could be the Washington and Paris dispute over Australia’s announcement that it will acquire US-built nuclear submarines as part of a new defense alliance, ditching a previous French contract for conventionally powered submarines.