WASHINGTON: The White House said on Friday it would lift Covid-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign nationals effective Nov 8, ending historic restrictions that had barred much of the world from entering the United States.
Announcing the starting date for the new rules on travel into and out of the country, White House spokesman Kevin Munoz posted on Twitter that the policy “is guided by public health, stringent, and consistent.” The unprecedented travel restrictions kept millions of visitors out of the United States from China, Canada, Mexico, India, Brazil, much of Europe and elsewhere; shrunk US tourism; and hurt border community economies. They prevented many loved ones and foreign workers from reuniting with families.
US allies had heavily lobbied the Biden administration to lift the rules.
Restrictions on non-US citizens were first imposed on air travellers from China in January 2020 by then-President Donald Trump and then extended to dozens of other countries, without any clear metrics for how and when to lift them.
Curbs on non-essential travellers at land borders with Mexico and Canada have been in place since March 2020 to address the Covid-19 pandemic.
Reuters first reported Friday’s announcement of the Nov. 8 starting date earlier in the day.
US airline, hotel and cruise industry stocks rose on the news, including American Airlines, up 2 per cent; Marriott International Inc, up 3.7pc; and Carnival Corp, up 1.6pc.
US international air passenger traffic was down 43pc in August and overall passenger air traffic was down 21pc over pre-pandemic levels, the US Transportation Department said Friday.
Airlines have seen an increase in international ticket sales in recent weeks, Nick Calio, chief executive of the Airlines for America industry trade group, said in a statement. Calio said the “full reopening of international travel is also critical to reviving economies around the globe, reinvigorating communities and supporting millions of jobs in the US and abroad.” The United States had lagged many other countries in lifting such restrictions.
The White House on Tuesday announced it would lift restrictions at its land borders and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated foreign nationals in early November. They are similar but not identical to requirements announced last month for international air travellers.
Unvaccinated visitors will still be barred from entering the United States from Canada or Mexico at land borders.
Canada on Aug. 9 began allowing fully vaccinated US visitors for non-essential travel.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said last week the United States will accept the use by international visitors of Covid-19 vaccines authorized by US regulators or the World Health Organization.
Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2021