US Reopens Borders To Fully Vaccinated, After 20 Months

The U.S. opened its doors to international travelers on Monday after more than 18 months of COVID-19 restrictions, and some airports across the world celebrated the milestone with pomp and circumstance.

Starting Monday, November 8, 2021, fully vaccinated international travelers will be permitted to enter the U.S. as long as they show proof of inoculation and present a negative COVID-19 test that was taken within three days of travel. The new policy, which was first announced last month, applies to both land borders and air travel.

The United States is largely wide open, although there are some state and local restrictions that still apply. For example, there are mask mandates in Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Washington, DC and Puerto Rico also require masks in indoor public spaces.

In some cities, including New York and San Francisco, there are vaccine requirements for indoor public spaces including restaurants, reported CNN.

Hawaii, which had some of the strictest entry requirements in the US, will now align with the new federal rules for international air travel. Although capacity restrictions in the state are easing, there are still some limits in place.

Getting vaccinated is the key requirement for the vast majority of international travellers hoping to enter the United States, reported CNN. Children under 18 are exempt from the vaccination requirement. The CDC has the full slate of air travel requirements on its website.

Travelers must meet CDC criteria for being “fully vaccinated.” Paper and digital documentation are acceptable. Airlines are responsible for gathering and verifying this information from air travelers.

Air travelers also need a negative COVID-19 test. Testing is required of all fully vaccinated air travelers ages 2 and up, regardless of nationality. Passengers are required to test negative for COVID-19 within three days of their flight’s departure for the United States.
Unvaccinated Americans and a very limited number of unvaccinated international travellers exempted from the vaccination requirement must test within one day of departing for the US.

Many airlines have mobile apps and portals on their websites where vaccination and testing information can be processed digitally, reported CNN.

Customs and Border Protection anticipates an increase in travel volumes and wait times at land and ferry crossings and is encouraging travelers to have their identification and vaccination documents ready. The agency also encourages travelers to use its CBP One app. Staffing levels will be at pre-Covid levels, according to CBP, but the agency will be balancing multiple priorities.

“Trade and travel facilitation remain a priority,” a Department of Homeland Security Q&A about the new policy says. “However, we cannot compromise national security which is our primary mission.” Digital and paper documentation is acceptable for proof of vaccination, and vaccine cards do not need to be in English.

Travelers should be prepared to attest to their vaccination status and reason for travel. They should also be prepared to show proof of being fully vaccinated if requested by a CBP officer. Covid tests are not required at land and ferry crossings. The web of rules and requirements to travel internationally right now is undeniably tangled, reported CNN.

The U.S. opened its doors to international travelers on Monday after more than 18 months of COVID-19 restrictions, and some airports across the world celebrated the milestone with pomp and circumstance.

Starting Monday, fully vaccinated international travelers will be permitted to enter the U.S. as long as they show proof of inoculation and present a negative COVID-19 test that was taken within three days of travel. The new policy, which was first announced last month, applies to both land borders and air travel.

Travelers can be inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, all of which are authorized in the U.S., in addition to shots approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, including AstraZeneca, Covaxin, Covishield, BIBP/Sinopharm and Sinovac, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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