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US details new international travel requirements for COVID-19

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It also reflects the White House embracing vaccination demands as a means of pushing more Americans to get vaccinated by making the unvaccinated stay inappropriate.

Under the policy, those who are vaccinated must show evidence of a COVID-19 negative test within three days of travel, while the unvaccinated must present a test performed within one day of travel.

Children under the age of 18 will not be required to be fully vaccinated due to delays in their vaccination qualification in many countries. They will need to take a test for COVID-19, unless they are 2 years old or younger.

Others that will be excluded from the vaccination requirement include people who participated in clinical trials for COVID-19, who had severe allergic reactions to vaccines or are from a country where vaccines are not widely available.

The latter category will cover people from countries with vaccination rates below 10% of adults. They can be admitted to the US with a government letter authorizing travel for a compelling reason and not just for tourism, a senior administration official said. The official estimated that there are about 50 such places.

The U.S. will accept any vaccine approved for regular or urgent use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. This includes the Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines of China. Mixing and matching of approved shots will be allowed.

The Biden administration has worked with airlines, which will be required to implement the new procedures. Airlines will be required to verify vaccine records and match them with identity information.

Quarantine officers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will check passengers arriving in the U.S. for compliance, according to an administration official. Airlines that do not comply with the requirements can be fined up to nearly $ 35,000 for violations.

The new rules will replace restrictions that began in January 2020, when President Donald Trump banned most non-US citizens from coming from China. The Trump administration expanded it to cover Brazil, Iran, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and much of continental Europe. President Joe Biden upheld those bans and extended them to South Africa and India.

Biden came under pressure from European allies to lift restrictions, especially as many European countries eased borders for American visitors.

“The United States is open to business with all the promises and potential that America has to offer,” Transport Secretary Gina Raimondo said after Monday’s announcement.

The main trading group for the US aviation industry praised the administration’s decision.

“We have seen an increase in ticket sales for international travel in recent weeks and we look forward to safely reuniting the countless families, friends and colleagues who have not seen each other for nearly two years, if no longer, “Airlines for America said in a statement.

The pandemic and travel restrictions as a result have caused international travel to sink. U.S. and foreign airlines plan to operate about 14,000 flights across the Atlantic this month, just over half of the 29,000 flights they make during October 2019, according to data from aviation research firm Cirium.

Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst in San Francisco, said lifting country-specific restrictions would help, but would be mitigated by vaccination and testing requirements.

“Anyone hoping for an explosion of international visitors will be disappointed,” he said. “November 8 will be the beginning of the recovery of international travel to the US, but I do not believe we will see a full recovery by 2023.”

The Biden administration has not proposed a vaccination request for domestic travel, which airlines strongly oppose, saying it would be impractical due to the large number of passengers flying within the US every day.

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Koenig reported from Dallas.

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