U.S. to ease travel restrictions for foreign visitors who are vaccinated against Covid

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People arrive at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on March 13, 2020. in New York City.
Pablo Monsalve | Corbis News | Getty Images

The U.S. is planning to ease travel restrictions for international visitors who are vaccinated against Covid-19, including those from the U.K. and EU, the White House said Monday.

Non-citizens visiting the United States will have to show proof of vaccination and a negative Covid test taken within three days of departure, said Jeff Zients, who is leading the nation’s Covid response efforts for the White House.

The changes will take effect in early November, which the airline industry expects will spur holiday bookings.

“They must show proof of vaccination prior to boarding a U.S.-bound airplane,” Zients said during a press briefing.

Airlines and other travel-industry groups have clamored for the U.S. to lift the restrictions for months. The Trump administration had first issued the rules in March 2020. President Joe Biden upheld those rules in January, shortly after taking office.

The Biden administration is also tightening rules for unvaccinated U.S. citizens returning home. They will need to test one day before departure and test again after returning.

European and British officials have eased entry rules to make it easier for U.S. travelers to visit since vaccines became widely available this spring but the U.S. hadn’t reciprocated.

Allowing more international travelers into the U.S. would have wide-ranging impacts. A ban on much of non-U.S. citizen travel has had wide-reaching impacts on industries including airlines, retail and restaurants.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also require airlines to collect and provide passenger information to aid contract tracing.

“In the coming weeks, CDC will be issuing a contact tracing order requiring airlines to collect current information for each U.S.-bound traveler, including their phone number and email address,” Zients said.

In June, the U.S., U.K., EU, Mexico and Canada announced they would form a group to study how to safely reopen international travel.

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