US to lift travel restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors from Nov.8 - GulfToday

US to lift travel restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors from Nov.8


A woman wheels her luggage at Washington's Dulles International Airport in Virginia. File / AFP

The White House on Friday said it will lift COVID-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign nationals effective from Nov.8, ending historic restrictions that had barred much of the world from entering the United States.

Announcing the starting date for the new rules on travel into and out of the country, White House spokesman Kevin Munoz posted on Twitter that the policy "is guided by public health, stringent, and consistent."

The unprecedented travel restrictions kept millions of visitors out of the United States from China, Canada, Mexico, India, Brazil, much of Europe and elsewhere; shrunk US tourism; and hurt border community economies. They prevented many loved ones and foreign workers from reuniting with families. US allies had heavily lobbied the Biden administration to lift the rules.

Border-US The US-Canada border crossing is seen amid the coronavirus outbreak in Lacolle, Quebec. File / Reuters

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.

Curbs on non-essential travellers at land borders with Mexico and Canada have been in place since March 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting Nov.8, the United States will admit fully vaccinated foreign 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.

UStravellers Travellers arrive at the international terminal of the O'Hare Airport in Chicago. File / AFP

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 infection rates were not on the restricted list, while some on the list had the pandemic more under control.

Reuters first reported Friday's announcement of the Nov.8 starting date earlier in the day.

US airline, hotel and cruise industry stocks rose on the news, including American Airlines, up 2%; Marriott International Inc, up 3.7%; and Carnival Corp, up 1.6%.

US international air passenger traffic was down 43% in August and overall passenger air traffic was down 21% over pre-pandemic levels, the US Transportation Department said on Friday.

Airlines have seen an increase in international ticket sales in recent weeks, Nick Calio, chief executive of the Airlines for America industry trade group, said in a statement. Calio said the "full reopening of international travel is also critical to reviving economies around the globe, reinvigorating communities and supporting millions of jobs in the US and abroad."

The United States had lagged many other countries in lifting such restrictions.

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