US to lift COVID-19 travel ban for fully vaccinated flyers

After 18 months of strict COVID-19 restrictions, the United States will reportedly be opening its doors to fully vaccinated international air travellers from early November.

Travellers on US-bound flights will have to provide proof of complete vaccination to their airline, and test negative on a COVID-19 test three days before departure, said media reports quoting Jeff Zients, the White House’s Coronavirus Response Coordinator, on Monday. This includes travellers from India. 

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Airlines will also have to submit the contact tracing information of each flyer to US health officials, said Zients. The US is currently battling a COVID-19 caseload of 117,000 per day (7-day average). The vaccination-testing-tracing rule for foreign arrivals hopes to slow the spread of the pandemic. 

The news has brought a wave of relief to families and friends separated from their loved ones for the last year and a half. It is also expected to boost business and trade. 

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Until now, people without American citizenship, permanent residency or certain exemptions were being denied entry into the US if they were travelling from restricted countries during the pandemic, which included India. 

No clarity yet on opening date, approved vaccines

It must be noted that the White House has not confirmed the exact date in November from when the travel relaxations will apply. It’s also unclear whether this change will apply solely to US-approved vaccines. 

Currently, the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has only authorised the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for inoculation.

We’ll keep you posted about the exact opening date, as well as any updates in approved vaccines for travellers. Until then, you can go over the US’ existing travel guidelines here

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