The US, in a shift in travel policy, will allow fully vaccinated foreign travellers—non-citizen and non-immigrant—to enter the country from November 8. Foreign air travellers will need to provide official vaccination documentations, and airlines must confirm the last dose was at least two weeks earlier than the travel date. The updated travel guidelines also include new protocols around testing. To further strengthen protections, unvaccinated travellers whether US citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), or the small number of accepted unvaccinated foreign nationals will now need to test within one day of departure.
Who all are eligible for travel?
Travellers will need to be vaccinated with either a US FDA-approved shot or one approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Individuals can be considered fully vaccinated for more than two weeks after receipt of the last dose if they have received any single dose of an FDA approved/authorised or WHO EUL approved single-dose series like Janssen, or approved mix-and-match doses. This will mean a shift away from the draconian travel restrictions in place from early 2020, which barred most non-US citizens who within the last 14 days have been in Britain, the 26 Schengen countries in Europe, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.
For those Americans who can show they are fully vaccinated, the same requirement currently in place will apply, as they have to produce a negative test result within three days of travel, the White House said. 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.
The airlines will coordinate with the Biden administration to ensure the rules are followed.
Children under 18 are exempted from the vaccination requirements. Children between the ages of 2 and 17 are required to take a pre-departure test. If travelling with a fully vaccinated adult, an unvaccinated child can test three days prior to departure (consistent with the timeline for fully vaccinated adults). If an unvaccinated child is travelling alone or with unvaccinated adults, they will have to test within one day of departure.
The other exceptions include certain COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants, those with medical contraindications to the vaccines, those who need to travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons (with a US government-issued letter affirming the urgent need to travel), those who are travelling on non-tourist visas from countries with low-vaccine availability (as determined by the CDC), and other very narrow categories.
As Reuters reported, non-tourist travelers from nearly 50 countries with nationwide vaccination rates of less than 10 per cent will also be eligible for exemption from the rules. Those receiving an exemption will generally need to be vaccinated within 60 days after arriving in the United States. Those countries include Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, Armenia, Myanmar, Iraq, Nicaragua, Senegal, Uganda, Libya, Ethiopia, Zambia, Congo, Kenya, Yemen, Haiti, Chad and Madagascar.
The White House stated: "The availability of COVID-19 vaccines is rising, and over 6 billion doses have been administered globally. As of October 24, 2021, 29 countries have a COVID-19 vaccination rate higher than 70 percent, many countries are making efforts to encourage COVID-19 vaccination for their populations, and some countries are considering or adding proof of vaccination requirements as conditions for entry."