US to lift travel bans for fully vaccinated individuals from November

The United States announced Monday it will lift Covid travel bans on all air passengers in November if they are fully vaccinated and undergo testing and contact tracing. This includes passengers from India. The unprecedented restrictions had kept relatives, friends and business travelers around the world separated for many months as the pandemic grinds on.

Fully vaccinated foreign nationals will have to provide proof of their vaccination before they can board a US-bound plane, White House officials informed. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US will determine which vaccines are acceptable for entry into the US. Jeffrey Zients, coronavirus response coordinator for President Joe Biden, told reporters the new “consistent approach” would take effect “early November.” The easing of travel restrictions, imposed by Donald Trump 18 months ago as the Covid-19 pandemic first erupted, marks a significant shift by Biden and answers a major demand from European allies at a time of strained diplomatic relations. Currently, only US citizens, residents and foreigners with special visas are allowed to enter the United States from most European countries. The announcement was also hailed by airlines, which have taken a huge hit during the pandemic shutdown. However, strict guidelines will remain in place.

Restrictions on vehicle movement from Canada and Mexico will also remain in place. “Most importantly, foreign nationals flying to the US will be required to be fully vaccinated,” Zients has said. Zients said fully vaccinated travellers will need to complete pre-departure testing within three days prior to departure to the United States and show proof of a negative test. Furthermore, any unvaccinated Americans returning to the US are subject to stricter testing requirements. They will need to test within one day of departure, and will be required to test again, post their arrival.