November 28, 2021

United States to lift restrictions on 8 November for vaccinated travelers

After more than eighteen months of border closures, the United States announced on Friday, October 15, the lifting, from November 8, of travel restrictions for foreign nationals fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The White House tweeted the date eagerly awaited by estranged couples, dispersed families or tourists around the world, since Washington last month pledged to lift restrictions on international travel. ” beginning of November “ for people vaccinated against Covid-19.

“The new US travel policy, which requires vaccination for foreign travelers to the United States, will come into effect on November 8”, the Biden administration said.

The United States will accept on its territory travelers arriving by air from the twenty-six member countries of the Schengen area as well as from Great Britain, Ireland, China, India, South Africa , Iran and Brazil. This new device will also apply to travelers crossing the land borders with Canada and Mexico.

Restrictions on non-U.S. Nationals were first imposed on travelers from China in January 2020 to stem the spread of Covid-19. Faced with the pandemic, the United States had closed its borders from March 2020, except for very limited compelling reasons or exemption granted by the State Department, for millions of travelers coming in particular from the European Union (EU) , from UK or China, then later from India or Brazil. They had also closed their land entry points to visitors from Canada and Mexico.

The prolonged maintenance of these restrictions caused strong diplomatic frustration, especially from last summer, when the EU, whose vaccination accelerated while that of the United States stalled, reopened its own borders to tourists. Americans, even the unvaccinated.

If Washington has taken refuge behind the sanitary conditions to justify this maintenance – “We follow science”, repeated the White House – the United States nonetheless announced the lifting of restrictions on September 20 at a very opportune moment from a diplomatic point of view. The announcement had indeed fallen in a context of great tension between France and the United States in a matter of sale of submarines to Australia.

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Details to be finalized

All vaccines approved by the World Health Organization will be accepted: AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinopharm and Sinovac.

The technical and practical details of lifting the restrictions aren’t all known yet – foreign minors, for example, might not be required to present a vaccination certificate – but Washington had already laid out the outline.

For travelers arriving by air, the United States will ask from November 8, in addition to proof of vaccination and a test within three days before departure, the establishment by the airlines of a contact tracking system.

For the land route, the White House announced this week that the lifting of restrictions would be done in two stages. From November 8, people coming for reasons deemed non-essential, for example family or tourism, will be able to cross the border of Canada or Mexico, provided they are vaccinated. People coming for compelling reasons – for example truck drivers – will be exempt. But, from January, the vaccination obligation will apply to all visitors crossing land borders, regardless of their reason for entry.

US health authorities have also specified that all vaccines approved by the World Health Organization would be accepted. For the moment, according to the emergency procedure put in place by the WHO, these are the AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines.

Very strict in closing borders, the United States has never implemented a vaccination obligation for domestic flights. And even the Biden administration, which has recently resigned itself to taking some binding measures, has not taken the plunge, knowing the politically hot subject.

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Le Monde with AFP and Reuters