Washington: The United States has announced the lifting of severe travel restrictions on fully vaccinated foreign travellers from November 8.
US President Joe Biden on Monday signed a presidential proclamation detailing the country's new international travel rules, which will replace the patchwork of blanket bans that have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic.
The new travel guidelines will end the US travel ban that has been in place for dozens of countries including India due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
With few exceptions, only foreign nationals with vaccinations approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization will be allowed to board planes to the U.S.
However, the new order has made the entry of unvaccinated noncitizen nonimmigrants in the US difficult.
"For anyone travelling to the United States who cannot demonstrate proof of full vaccination, they will have to produce documentation of a negative test within one day of departure," instead of the current three days, according to the White House.
Meanwhile, the fully vaccinated will still have a three-day window for COVID-19 testing with negative results, but if they are not able to show proof of vaccination, they too will be subject to the one-day testing requirement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued three orders to implement the Presidential Proclamation in accordance with appropriate public health protocols to ensure the safety of international air travel.
These orders include operational details, putting in place stringent and consistent global international travel policy that is guided by public health.
The first order is a vaccination requirement for non-citizens who are not immigrants. On November 8th, air travellers to the United States who are non-citizens and who are not immigrants will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of their vaccination status prior to flying to the United States.
The airlines will verify vaccination status in the same way they have been and will continue to do with the proof of a pre-departure negative test result.
For purposes of entry into the United States, vaccines will be accepted that include the FDA approved or authorized and WHO Emergency Use Listed vaccines.
There will be very limited exceptions to the vaccination requirements for non-citizens who are not immigrants.
The CDC has determined a very narrow list of exemptions, including children under 18 and those countries with less than a 10 per cent total vaccination rate due to lack of availability of vaccines.
The next order after the vaccination order is an amendment to the testing requirement for all air travellers to the United States, regardless of citizenship.
Fully vaccinated air passengers entering the United States internationally, regardless of citizenship, will continue to be required to show a pre-departure negative COVID test taken within three days of travel prior to boarding.
For those vaccinated persons, they will be required to show proof of vaccination to qualify for this three-day testing window.
However, for unvaccinated air passengers, including unvaccinated U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, the rules will now require a test within one day of departure to the United States.
Children under two years old do not need to test. There are also accommodations for people who have a documented recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days with respect to the testing requirement.
The third and final order is for the collection of contact information. Air passengers to the United States will also be required to provide basic, valid contact information to airlines before boarding flights to the United States.
This will allow airlines to better coordinate with public health agencies, to share information when needed, to keep the public safe and informed, and strengthen their ability to rapidly identify and contact people in the United States who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, such as COVID-19.
In addition to these orders, all travellers need to plan ahead before travel. Follow all airline and destination requirements, including mask-wearing, proof of vaccination, testing, or quarantine. U.S. travellers will need to be prepared to show proof of a negative test before they're able to travel to the United States and should make arrangements for testing in advance of travel if possible.
Vaccinated U.S. travellers will need to carry and provide proof of their vaccination to the airlines to qualify for the three-day testing window. Otherwise, a one-day test will be required.