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US to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated visitors from the UK, EU and China

·3 min read
A traveller at Heathrow Airport (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
A traveller at Heathrow Airport (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

The United States will ease travel restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign nationals visiting the country from early November.

During his time as president, Donald Trump initially limited travel from China before banning countries from the Schengen zone, as well as the United Kingdom and Ireland, in early 2020 as the coronavirus spread. President Joe Biden’s administration has maintained these tight restrictions.

However, the White House has now said fully vaccinated adults from 33 countries, including the UK, China and EU nations will be allowed to fly into the US.

“This is the conclusion of a policy process on this particular issue,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

The announcement comes during a time when tensions between the US and Europe are at a high. Many European leaders have expressed frustration over America’s exit from Afghanistan. Similarly, France recalled its ambassadors to both the US and Australia last week after Mr Biden announced a nuclear-powered submarine deal with the UK and Australia which supplanted one agreed with Paris.

“Re-establishing alliances doesn’t mean you won’t have disagreements,” said Ms Psaki.

Mr Biden did not take questions on the travel updates or about France when he touched down on the south lawn of the White House on Monday.

The EU had initially said it was safe to travel to the United States but later removed it from the “White List” of destinations, along with five other countries.

White House pandemic coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters he expects fully vaccinated Europeans to be able to fly to the US staring in “early November”.

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

Mr Zients added that unvaccinated Americans who want to travel back to the US will have to test negative for the coronavirus the day before they travel to the country and be tested after they arrive.

Vaccinated travellers will have to provide a negative Covid test from within three days of their planned travel to the US.

The announcement comes on the eve of Boris Johnson visiting the United States, where he is expected to pressure Mr Biden to make an “impassioned case” for allowing fully vaccinated Britons back into the US.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is also expected to unveil a contact tracing order that will require airlines to collect – and retain for 30 days – information on travellers heading to the US.

“This will enable CDC and state and local public health officials to follow up with inbound travellers and those around them if someone has potentially been exposed to Covid-19 and other pathogens,” said Mr Zients.

Similarly, Mr Zients said the president has doubled the fine for not wearing a mask on planes.

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