Back in March 2020, the US closed its borders to most travelers in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In the spring of 2021, many countries loosened their own entry restrictions while the US kept their travel rules in place.
After Europe opened its borders to Americans in June, some governments complained about the unfairness. That’s all about to change soon, however.
The travel news this week is all about the lifting of US travel bans. Here’s what you need to know about what travel will look like come November.
1 America’s new air travel rules look like most of the world’s
The American international travel rules will look very similar to those other countries have put in place:
- All adults must be fully vaccinated before boarding a flight to America, and
- Show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.
Fully vaccinated means the traveler has received one of the vaccines approved in the US, including the AstraZeneca vaccine, and waited at least two weeks before traveling.
2 With one important difference
Airlines will be required to collect and retain passenger information (phone number and email address) for 30 days. The data may be submitted to the CDC if the health agency needs to conduct contact tracing.
The goal is to enable the CDC and state and local public health officials to follow up with inbound travelers and those around them when someone has potentially been exposed to COVID and other pathogens. This new requirement may be applied broadly going forward to protect the US population from future public health threats, including new COVID variants.
3 Travel rules for the unvaccinated differ by citizenship
Just like other countries, the US is barring unvaccinated visitors from entering its borders unless they are a citizen. US citizens and permanent residents who are not fully vaccinated or unvaccinated are permitted to enter. They will need to test within 24 hours of their flight and be tested upon arrival.
4 Children are exempt
The new travel rules, at least for now, apply only to adult travelers. There are exceptions in place for children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
5 Health passes may be required
Depending on where travelers go in the US, they will have to navigate a myriad of rules mandated by the state and local officials. There is no standardized system in the US and the states are passing their own regulations. Here are a few examples:
- In California, proof of vax is required for many indoor venues like bars and nightclubs. The vax card will also be required to enter theme parks.
- In New York City, proof of vaccination is required to dine or drink indoors and to visit gyms, fitness classes, and theaters.
- In New Orleans, proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test will be needed to gain entry to restaurants, bars, and music venues.
Other states have lifted the requirement to wear a mask and do not require a vaccination card.
6 America’s land borders remain closed
The restrictions on crossing land borders from Mexico and Canada remain unchanged. This means that fully vaccinated travelers from the two neighboring countries can fly to enter the US, but they cannot drive into the US.
Trip planning appears to be in the works already, as newly released data from travel platform Hopper shows. Search data for US-bound flights rose by 27% after the announcement. Flight searches from Europe to the US spiked by 68%.
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