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US Travel Policy 2021: What are the new COVID-19 rules?
The US is introducing new international travel policies that will affect both the US and non-US citizens flying into the country. The goal is to resume air travel that has been under disruption due to COVID-19.
The international travel rules will take effect in November and will supposedly replace all the confusions that have been occurring for some time now. The plan was announced last Monday, but here are some answers about what one can expect.
What is the New US Travel Policy 2021?
All foreign national travelers heading to the US will be required to get double shots of the vaccine before boarding the flights. This is in addition to the current requirement where visitors need to show proof of negative PCR tests taken 72 hours prior to the departure.
Once the vaccination requirement is implemented, the Biden administration will ease the country-specific international travel restrictions that have prevented non-citizens who have been in India, South Africa, Ireland, the UK, European Union, China, Brazil, and Iran 14 days before entering the US.
How does this affect everyone?
Fully-vaccinated US nationals will only need to show proof of negative coronavirus test performed within 72 hours of departure.
US citizens and residents who are partially vaccinated will be able to enter the country but will face stricter testing and contact tracing protocols. They will be required to be tested within 24 hours before boarding the flight to the US and upon return to the country.
The White House has announced that adult foreign nationals need to be double vaccinated. However, it has not mentioned whether unvaccinated children will go through different testing protocols or not while entering the country.
Which COVID-19 vaccines are acceptable?
The CDC says the US will accept complete vaccination of travelers with any COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, including Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson used in the US. AstraZeneca and China’s Sinovac are other vaccines that the WHO also approves. It is reviewing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and has not approved it yet.
How will this affect the airline industry?
Hopper’s economist, Adit Damodaran, predicted that there would be higher airfares on flights from Europe due to growing demands though the rush to get tickets may be slowed down because of delta variants and rise in COVID rates. However, the CDC will require airlines to collect information about passengers and provide it to the health agency if it needs to conduct contact tracing.
Travel restrictions of crossing land borders from Canada and Mexico into the US will remain unchanged for now. This means fully vaccinated nationals from these two neighboring countries will soon be able to fly to the US but may not enter the country by car.
How will this affect the travel industry?
The US Chamber of Commerce said lifting the current restrictions on international travelers will contribute to a durable recovery for the US economy. According to the US Travel Association, the US was on pace to lose $175 billion in export income from international visitors this year before Monday.
The current restrictions have made it easier for Americans to visit Europe. According to Airlines for America, US international travel in August was down 54% compared with two years ago, and arrivals by non-US citizens were off 74%.
There is unexpressed demand among business travelers from Europe. Foreign executives who have been vaccinated will no longer have to prove that their travel to the United States serves the purpose of national interest.