The US eased international travel restrictions on Monday (8 November) for the first time in nearly two years, removing its country-by-country travel restrictions and instead introducing international restrictions based on the vaccination status of individual travellers.
The change means that 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, and South Africa.
The new system carries the following rules:
- Foreign national air travellers to the US will be required to be fully vaccinated;
- Travellers must provide proof of vaccination status before boarding an aeroplane to fly, with only limited exceptions;
- Vaccines accepted will include those FDA approved or authorised, as well as vaccines with an emergency use listing (EUL) from the World Health Organization (WHO);
- Fully vaccinated air travellers will continue to be required to show documentation of a pre-departure negative viral test from a sample taken within three days of travel to the United States before boarding;
- This includes all travellers – US citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and foreign nationals;
- The new rules do not require foreign visitors or Americans entering the country to go into quarantine.
Unvaccinated travellers are allowed, but only if they are US citizens or permanent residents returning to the states, or part of explicitly exempt groups.
There are expected to be few if any empty seats on many of the international flights on Monday, and passenger volume is expected to remain high in coming weeks, Reuters reported.
Delta Airlines said in the six weeks since the U.S reopening was announced it has seen a 450% increase in international point-of-sale bookings versus the six weeks prior to the announcement.
Airlines, which have warned there will likely be long queues at first, will check vaccination documentation for international travellers as they currently do for Covid-19 test results.