In a new development as US opens international borders for non-essential travel, the US administration led by President Joe Biden has issued new guidelines for foreign travellers to the country, lifting restrictions on China, India and much of Europe effective from 8 November, the White House said.
The new order has imposed new vaccine requirements for most foreign national air travellers. Earlier in 2020, the country imposed extraordinary travel restrictions to contain the spread of Covid-19. The rules bar most non-U.S. citizens who within the last 14 days have been in Britain, the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.
“It is in the interests of the United States to move away from the country-by-country restrictions previously applied during the COVID-19 pandemic and to adopt an air travel policy that relies primarily on vaccination to advance the safe resumption of international air travel to the United States,” Biden’s proclamation says.
With few exceptions, only foreign nationals having been vaccinated with vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization will be allowed to visit the country, news agency Reuters mentioned in a report. However, the new order has made the entry of unvaccinated noncitizen nonimmigrants in the US difficult.
“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,” instead of the current three days, according to the White House order.
As per the latest rules, fully vaccinated passengers will still have a three-day window for COVID-19 testing with negative results, but if they are not able to show proof of vaccination, they too will be subject to the one-day testing requirement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued three orders to implement the Presidential Proclamation in accordance with appropriate public health protocols to ensure the safety of international air travel. These orders include operational details, putting in place stringent and consistent global international travel policy that is guided by public health.
The first order is a vaccination requirement for non-citizens who are not immigrants. From November 8th, air travellers to the United States who are non-citizens and who are not immigrants will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of their vaccination status prior to flying to the United States.
The airlines will verify vaccination status in the same way they have been and will continue to do with the proof of a pre-departure negative test result. The CDC has determined a very narrow list of exemptions, including children under 18 and those countries with less than a 10 per cent total vaccination rate due to lack of availability of vaccines.
The next order after the vaccination order is an amendment to the testing requirement for all air travellers to the United States, regardless of citizenship. Fully vaccinated air passengers entering the United States internationally, regardless of citizenship, will to be required to show a pre-departure negative COVID test taken within three days of travel prior to boarding.
For those vaccinated persons, they will be required to show proof of vaccination to qualify for this three-day testing window. For unvaccinated air passengers, including unvaccinated U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, the rules will now require a test within one day of departure to the United States.
Children under two years old do not need to test. There are also accommodations for people who have a documented recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days with respect to the testing requirement. The third and final order is for the collection of contact information. Air passengers to the United States will also be required to provide basic, valid contact information to airlines before boarding flights to the United States.
The Transportation Security Administration plans to issue a security directive that provides the legal basis for airlines implenting the vaccine requirements. The attestation form notes it is a crime for air travelers lie about vaccination status. The CDC said there are no religious exemptions for international travelers seeking to avoid COVID-19 requirements.