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Thread: US to lift restrictions on fully vaccinated international travellers in November

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    Default US to lift restrictions on fully vaccinated international travellers in November

    US to lift restrictions on fully vaccinated international travellers in November

    The US will relax entry rules for travellers from the UK and European Union who are vaccinated against Covid-19

    21 September, 2021

    NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - The Biden administration will lift travel restrictions starting in November on those from abroad who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, ending a travel ban implemented to limit the spread of the disease and reopening the United States to relatives who have been separated from families and employees from businesses.

    Foreign travellers who provide proof that they are fully vaccinated before boarding a flight will be able to fly to the United States starting in "early November", Mr Jeff Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator, said on Monday (Sept 20).

    "International travel is critical to connecting families and friends, to fueling small and large businesses, to promoting the open exchange ideas and culture," Mr Zients said.

    "That’s why, with science and public health as our guide, we have developed a new international air travel system that both enhances the safety of Americans here at home and enhances the safety of international air travel."

    The administration has restricted travel for foreigners looking to fly to the United States from a group of European countries, Iran and China for more than a year.

    Fully vaccinated travellers will also need to show proof of a negative test for the coronavirus within three days before coming to the United States, Mr Zients said.

    Unvaccinated Americans overseas aiming to travel home will have to clear stricter testing requirements.

    They will need to test negative for the coronavirus one day before travelling to the United States and will need to be tested again after arriving, Mr Zients said.

    The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention will also soon issue an order directing airlines to collect phone numbers and e-mail addresses of travellers for a new contact-tracing system.

    The authorities will then follow up with the travellers after arrival to check if they are experiencing symptoms of the virus.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson, currently in the United States on a visit, tweeted he was “delighted”, adding it was “a fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond (Atlantic) can be reunited”.

    Newly appointed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, accompanying Johnson to the UN General Assembly in New York, called it “excellent news” for travellers to and from the United States.

    Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the move was the work of “brilliant collaboration”.

    British officials had hoped the President would announce a relaxation of restrictions when he came to Cornwall, England, in June for the Group of 7 summit meeting and were disappointed when he did not.

    Their frustration has only deepened since then.

    British officials note that the United States had not imposed a similar ban on people from Caribbean nations, which had a higher rate of infection than Britain, or from Argentina, which had a lower percentage of its population vaccinated.

    Britain has been one of the worst affected countries in the world, with more than 135,000 deaths, but more than 80 per cent of all people aged over 16 have now been double jabbed.

    German vice-chancellor Olaf Scholz also welcomed US plans to lift Covid-19 travel bans for vaccinated air passengers as positive for business and US-European ties.

    “Great news – for German and European investments, our exports and transatlantic relations,” tweeted Scholz, who is also finance minister and the frontrunner in the race to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel after Sunday’s general election.

    The European Union and have Britain both allowed fully vaccinated people from the United States to travel without quarantine and officials there were annoyed when the United States did not reciprocate.

    The ban, European officials point out, has kept families separated since March 2020, when former President Donald Trump first announced it, as the coronavirus was erupting across Europe.

    European countries have weathered a third wave of infections propelled by the Delta variant.

    But in several countries, including Britain, infection rates have begun to level off and even decline.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: US to lift restrictions on fully vaccinated international travellers in November

    US to relax travel restrictions for COVID-19 vaccinated foreign air travellers in November

    21 Sep 2021

    WASHINGTON: The United States will reopen in November to air travellers from 33 countries including China, India, Brazil and most of Europe who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the White House said on Monday (Sep 20), easing tough pandemic-related restrictions that started early last year.

    The decision, announced by White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients, marked an abrupt shift for President Joe Biden's administration, which said last week it was not the right time to lift any restrictions amid rising COVID-19 cases.

    The United States had lagged many other countries in lifting such restrictions, and allies welcomed the move. The US restrictions have barred travellers from most of the world including tens of thousands of foreign nationals with relatives or business links in the United States.

    The United States will admit fully vaccinated air travellers from the 26 so-called Schengen countries in Europe including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Greece, as well as Britain, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil. The unprecedented US restrictions have barred non-US citizens who were in those countries within the past 14 days.

    Restrictions on non-US citizens were first imposed on air travellers from China in January 2020 by then-President Donald Trump and then extended to dozens of other countries, without any clear metrics for how and when to lift them.

    Zients did not give a precise start date for the new rules beyond saying "early November", and many details of the new policy are still being decided.

    Separately on Monday, the United States extended its pandemic-related restrictions at land borders with Canada and Mexico that bar nonessential travel such as tourism through Oct 21. It gave no indication if it would apply the new vaccine rules to those land border crossings.

    The United States has allowed foreign air travellers from more than 150 countries throughout the pandemic, a policy that critics said made little sense because some countries with high COVID-19 rates were not on the restricted list, while some on the list had the pandemic more under control.

    Monday's action means COVID-19 vaccine requirements will now apply to nearly all foreign nationals flying to the United States - including those not subject to the prior restrictions.

    Americans travelling from abroad who are not vaccinated will face tougher rules than vaccinated citizens, including needing to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within a day of travel and proof of purchasing a viral test to be taken after arrival.

    "BASING IT ON SCIENCE"

    Airlines for America, an industry trade group, said that through late August, international air travel was down 43 per cent from pre-pandemic levels.

    The announcement comes as President Joe Biden makes his first UN General Assembly speech on Tuesday, and hosts leaders from Britain, India, Japan and Australia this week.

    White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday the policy was not timed for diplomacy. "If we were going to make things much easier for ourselves, we would have done it prior to June, when the president had his first foreign trip, or earlier this summer. This is when the process concluded," she said. "We're basing it on science."

    US COVID-19 infections and deaths have skyrocketed since June as the Delta variant spreads, particularly among the unvaccinated. Nearly 29,000 new US cases were reported on Sunday.

    British Airways Chief Executive Sean Doyle said the US announcement "marks a historic moment and one which will provide a huge boost to Global Britain as it emerges from this pandemic".

    Shares in US airlines were little changed, while some European carriers gained. British Airways parent IAG SA rose 11.2 per cent, while Air France-KLM and Deutsche Lufthansa AG closed up more than 5 per cent.

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the announcement "a fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again." Germany's US ambassador, Emily Haber, said on Twitter it was "hugely important to promote people-to-people contacts and transatlantic business".

    It will have less impact on travel from China, which requires its residents to quarantine for at least two weeks on return home. International flights from China are capped and running at around 2 per cent of 2019 levels, a situation expected to last until the second half of next year.

    CDC HAS FINAL WORD ON VACCINES ACCEPTED

    Foreign nationals will need to present proof of vaccination before travel and will not be required to quarantine on arrival.

    The White House said the final decision on what vaccines would be accepted is up to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    The CDC on Monday pointed to its prior guidance when asked what vaccines it will accept.

    "The CDC considers someone fully vaccinated with any FDA-authorised or approved vaccines and any vaccines that (the World Health Organization) has authorised," said spokesperson Kristen Nordlund. That list could change pending additions by either agency, she said.

    Exceptions include children not yet eligible for shots. Airlines heavily lobbied the White House to lift the restrictions, and it has been working since August on the new plan.

    The US Travel Association trade group previously estimated that the US restrictions, if they ran to the end of the year, would cost the American economy US$325 billion.

    Zients said last Wednesday that given the rise of the Delta variant, it was not the right time to lift travel restrictions. Asked on Monday what had changed since then, Zients cited rising global vaccinations, adding: "The new system allows us to implement strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

    Zients said the new system would include collecting contact tracing data from passengers travelling into the United States to enable the CDC to contact travellers exposed to COVID-19.

    The administration has been considering imposing vaccine requirements for foreign nationals since May, officials said, but the White House only decided on Friday to move forward.

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