The United States has reopened its borders… but most of the world will not be able to enter

The United States says the global community is welcome to visit the country now that the government has ended restrictions on travelers from 33 countries.

The reality, however, is that this will remain difficult, if not impossible, for most of the world. The experts pointed out that it will take years for the trip to fully recover.

To begin with, half the world is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and therefore does not meet the American criteria for foreign visitors. So while many Europeans will now be able to travel to the United States, people from poorer countries where vaccines are scarce continue to be excluded, with some exceptions.

For some public health experts, this creates ethical doubts about measurement.

“The problem isn’t limiting access based on vaccination status,” said Nany Kass, associate director of public health at Johns Hopkins University’s Berman Institute of Bioethics. “It is this that makes it routinely impossible for people – usually from poor countries and whose governments have been unable to secure the necessary supplies of vaccines – to come and see their loved ones.”

Even if you are vaccinated, it may not be enough. Non-immigrant adults must have received vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or have been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use. Otherwise, they are also prohibited from entering the United States. This leaves out all the people who received the Russian vaccine Sputnik V or the Chinese CanSino.

There are also months of delays in some places to receive a visa. The American Travel Association has stated that on average there is a six-month delay in appointments for visitor visas, as many consulates and embassies have not resumed normal operations. Meanwhile, other countries have their own rules, which complicates international travel.

Edgar Orozco, owner of two restaurants, both called Chelito’s, in El Paso, Texas, said he was excited about the reopening of the land border with Mexico on Monday, saying he hoped it would help fill the streets of the downtown of shoppers — and customers in its restaurants. — this holiday season, unlike last year, when, he noted, the streets were empty.

“Now that non-essential travelers are going to be able to return, we’re excited to return to those good old days,” he said.

However, you have heard of people having visa problems, such as the case of a supplier from Mexico who said he could not renew his visa until 2023. The waiting time to get an appointment for a U.S. tourist visa in Ciudad Juárez, which borders El Paso, it’s 676 days, or nearly two years, according to the State Department.

Still, experts expect a surge of travelers at US airports, which will go a long way to boosting the tourism industry as a whole. Travelers from the 28 European countries that remained on the United States’ restricted list on Monday accounted for 37% of foreign visitors in 2019, according to the association.

Travelport, which analyzes flight booking data, noted that, by region, the most international travelers visiting the United States since mid-2020 have come from Latin America, but people booking flights since late September, when the Biden government indicated it would lift travel bans, they are mostly European. The reopening of land borders with Canada and Mexico should also help revive travel, since they are usually the two main sources of international visitors to the United States.

But the American Travel Association predicted in June that travel would not return to 2019 levels of nearly 80 million visitors until 2024. The number of international travelers fell to 19 million in 2020 and is expected to increase slightly this year, to more than 26 million, to double to about 57 million in 2022, but this is still far from the levels recorded before the pandemic.

The United States is not alone in trying to revive travel as more and more people get vaccinated. Some countries that have closed their borders have started to ease restrictions gradually, such as Australia, India and Thailand. Europe opened its doors to Americans a few months ago.

Over the past two weeks, 75% of new bookings at three Manhattan Moxy hotels have come from Europeans, most of them from Britain, Spain, France and Germany, said Mitchell Hochberg, president of the Lightstone hotel operator.

However, Hochberg estimates that it will take at least until spring for international reserves to return to pre-pandemic levels.

“Travel can be tedious,” he said. “Flights are somewhat limited at the moment.”

Fear of contracting COVID-19 continues to hamper travel plans for many, even if they are already able to enter the United States.

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