(CNN) — Foreign visitors who are fully vaccinated against covid-19 will be able to travel to the United States as of November 8, the White House said on Friday.
“The new US travel policy that requires vaccination of foreign travelers to the United States will begin on November 8,” said Kevin Muñoz, White House Under Secretary of Press, on Twitter. “This announcement and the date apply to both international air travel and ground travel. This policy is governed by public health, is strict and consistent.”
Reuters was the first to report the date of November 8.
The measure would relax a patchwork of bans that had begun to cause debate abroad and replace them with more uniform requirements for incoming international air passengers.
It will be good news for the travel industry, which has been pushing the federal government to lift some of the rules that prevent international tourism, as well as for airlines, hotels and hotel groups.
A White House official told CNN more guidance on “very limited exceptions” to the requirements, along with the covid-19 vaccines that will be accepted and other operational details before the November 8 date.
“CDC has already informed airlines that all FDA approved and authorized vaccines, as well as all vaccines that have a WHO Emergency Use List (EUL), will be accepted for air travel. We anticipate the same. it will happen at the land border, “the official said.
The same rules will also apply to non-essential travel at US land borders and to visitors arriving in the US by passenger ferry.
“These travelers should be prepared to attest to vaccination status and present proof of vaccination to a CBP officer upon request,” the official said. “By January, foreign nationals who cross the land border for both essential and non-essential reasons must be fully vaccinated.”
Travel bans are lifted, but some restrictions continue
Travel bans to the United States were first imposed in the early days of the pandemic when then-President Donald Trump limited travel from China in January 2020. That step failed to prevent the virus from reaching the United States, and they added additional countries to the list as health officials lobbied the White House to limit entry from places where case rates were high.
Trump added countries in the Schengen Zone, which encompasses 26 states in Europe, including France, Germany and Italy, along with Ireland and the United Kingdom. Brazil, South Africa and India were added separately. The land borders with Canada and Mexico were also closed.
Biden had maintained strict bans on non-essential travel even as vaccination rates in Europe rose, citing the unpredictable nature of the pandemic and the emergence of the delta variant.
But the system proved infuriating for European governments, whose citizens were still barred from entering the United States, even as those nations reduced their case counts amid successful vaccination campaigns. Countries with higher case totals that were not on the list were not subject to the rules.
Over the course of the past few months, travel restrictions for people wanting to enter the United States have become a major transatlantic rift. European leaders, frustrated by the apparent lack of progress, began to make their complaints public. They said the rules damaged relations between Europe and the United States.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism