US reopens borders after 20-month ban on non-essential travel

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Since Monday, November 8, restrictions on accessing the United States from certain countries have been lifted. The nation will allow international travelers entry, but they must have their full immunization schedule, with some exceptions.

More than a year and a half after the United States closed its borders to international travelers from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom and much of the policies are changing as the spread of the Covid virus slows -19. From November 8, passengers with their full vaccination schedule will be able to enter this country.

Land borders have also reopened for people wishing to enter from Canada and Mexico. The measure for crossing borders by this means will apply to people who travel for non-essential reasons such as family or tourism. However, the rule will change by January 2022 when the vaccination requirement will apply to all visitors entering by land, regardless of their reason for entry.

Land borders with Mexico and the United States will also open Nov. 8 for non-essential travel. ©David Ryder/Reuters

All vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) will be accepted by the American authorities: the vaccine from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, the Indians Covaxin, Sinopharm and Sinovac. Although the WHO is reviewing Sputnik V, the Russian vaccine is currently unlicensed even though its application is licensed in 70 countries.

The reunion of family and friends will return

With the travel ban imposed by Donald Trump in early 2020 and later continued by his successor, Joe Biden, hundreds of families, friends and business partners have been separated.

“It’s been really hard…I just want to see my son,” Alison Henry, a 63-year-old Briton who will return to New York on Monday, told AFP.

As a measure of protection against the virus, the United States closed its doors to travelers from China in February 2020. Then, on March 13, restrictions were designed for several European countries and a few days later the United Kingdom United and Ireland followed, land time. the borders with Mexico and Canada have been closed.

Many families on both sides of the Atlantic are looking forward to the reunion, and although it has been possible to travel from the United States to Europe since last summer, foreigners who were on American soil with some visas had no guarantee of being able to return to their country.

To cope with the influx of travel, airlines have increased the number of transatlantic flights, incorporating larger planes, as the lifting of restrictions also represents relief for the tourism sector which has been mired in an economic crisis in due to restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Along the long Mexican border, many US cities in Texas and California have suffered economically from travel restrictions.

“The pandemic has affected the whole world and we just hope that our people can also come and visit us,” Marcos Rivera, owner of a clothing store in El Paso, Texas, told AFP.

However, while several European countries pressured the United States to ease its measures and thus revive the economy of linked companies on the two continents, at least 30 countries expressed their concern over the lifting of the travel ban.

In 2019, before the pandemic, about a fifth of the roughly 79 million visitors to the United States came from Europe.

What are the travel restrictions?

Entry into the United States will not be completely free and the American authorities are preparing to check the vaccination status of travelers, the network of closest contacts and the wearing of negative Covid-19 tests.

All adult travelers will need to be fully vaccinated before boarding their flight and will need to show a negative Covid-19 test within the last 72 hours. Those under 18 will not be required to be vaccinated, but testing negative for the virus will be required, and for children 2 years of age or younger, there will be no requirement when boarding their flight.

With vaccine distribution crisis in poorer countries, Joe Biden’s government says it will allow unvaccinated international visitors into the country ‘if there is a humanitarian or emergency reason’ . To do this, she created a list of about 50 countries where only 10% of the population has been vaccinated.

Biden also explained that these exceptions will be applied on an “extremely restricted” basis and will require approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With AFP, AP and Reuters

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