After more than 18 months of barring the vast majority of travelers from crossing into the US (the bans started with Chinese and Europeans imposed by President Trump, before expanding on to other high-risk countries) the US will finally open its borders to vaccinated foreign travelers (provided they have received an 'approved' vaccine, ie not the Russian jab) starting Nov. 8.
The good news is that foreign travelers who have family in the US will be able to visit with them this holiday season (so long as they don't start a fight on the plane). A White House official said that travel options will be expanded for those who have gotten their shots, while those who haven't will face tremendous pressure to do so.
According to Bloomberg, the new measures are the biggest changes to American travel policy since the early days of the pandemic. Finally, the US is replacing a system that flatly barred most foreign nationals coming directly from certain places, including Europe, India, Brazil and China.
In its place, under the new system, vaccinated people who have had a negative test in the prior 72 hours will be able to board a flight to the US as long as they share contact tracing information. Unvaccinated foreigners will be generally barred from entry, while unvaccinated Americans will need a negative COVID test.
The move was first announced Sept. 20, but the Biden administration didn’t immediately say when the measures would take effect. Airlines, battered by the coronavirus crisis, have applauded the move. Transatlantic flights between the US and Europe (typically stocked with HNW travelers) have been one of the most profitable routes for airlines.
This isn't the first time the US has dialed back restriction: Last month, the US announced that foreigners from the UK and EU would be the first to be exempted from the travel restrictions. The move was first announced Sept. 20, but the Biden Admin didn’t disclose exactly when the measures would kick in.
The Nov. 8 date coincides with a change in air travel rules, as well as an opening along land borders with Canada and Mexico that had been announced earlier this week.
The decision to accept all WHO-approved jabs, including those not used in the US, means millions of travelers who have received doses developed by AstraZeneca as well as by China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech will still be allowed to enter.