After 18 months of closing the doors of the US to visitors from European countries, Iran, and China, the US has announced that they will allow foreign visitors to enter the US yet again. However, it will not be like pre-Covid and these new rules will have some impact Americans coming home from abroad as well.
US to Lift Ban on International Travelers
It is hard to talk about “following the science” while having this ban in place for so long. The US limit on European visitors, for instance, was particularly hard to fathom and understand while they allowed visitors from countries with very high Covid numbers to visit the US without any more covid-related requirements than a US citizen would have.
Not only was the ban itself one that didn’t make sense but the implementation of covid-travel protocols on Americans didn’t make sense. The US did something no country in Europe did – made mandatory testing for any American returning home over the age of 2. Americans that were fully vaccinated could visit Europe with no test whatsoever but that same vaccine would not get them out of a test to return home. Also, the age of 2 is something that is particularly unusual since many countries do not start requiring testing until at least 6 years of age and even up to over 12 years of age.
However, that is all set to change come early November, according to the US government. Foreign travelers will once again be allowed to enter the US – but they will need to be fully vaccinated and show proof of that and a negative test taken within 3 days of their flight to the US.
This will allow many people who had been away from family in the US for more than 18 months to finally be able to see each other again – and that includes such happy unions as seeing grandchildren for the first time or a new family member. The testing rule is the same one that is in place now for Americans – it must be done 3 days (not a set hour limit) before the flight departs for the US.
New Rules for Americans Returning Home
While this lifting of the ban is good news for foreigners, unvaccinated Americans returning home will find things are getting more strict. Instead of the current 3 day rule, unvaccinated Americans will need to have a negative test taken just one day before their flight departs for the US and they will need another test when they get back to the US.
Furthermore, there will be a new contact-tracing system in place that will require airlines to get phone numbers and e-mail addresses for those entering the US for follow-up after arrival. This will also require the airlines to check and verify the necessary documentation for the vaccination and/or negative test (as happens now for the test).
Some of the unknowns at this time are which vaccinations will be approved for entry for foreigners. There are several vaccines available though not all were approved for use in the US. This includes the vaccines that are made in and used by China and Russia. So, will the US allow all vaccines to be used for entry or will they restrict them to the ones that the US has cleared?
With the majority of UK citizens receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine (not approved for use in the US), I highly doubt it will be kept to just the cleared vaccines used in the US. But, will they allow the Chinese and Russian ones? How about outliers (for instance, Iran even developed one but stopped using it when there were many extreme responses to it).
Another question is age – what age will they require for the vaccinated travelers? Currently, the US recommends that people 12 and older get a Covid vaccine. Will that be the age they set for the requirement to enter the US? How about for Americans returning home? Will the US raise the minimum age of testing from 2 to something more realistic?
The US will lift the ban on international travelers entering the US. However, they will require vaccinations for all foreigners and even will have new testing requirements in place for unvaccinated Americans that are returning home. This is all set to take place sometime in early November.