New Delhi: After almost a year and a half later, the US has lifted travel restrictions from Monday allowing travellers from a list of countries including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe to make long-delayed trips to reconnect with loved ones.
The US has allowed fully vaccinated travellers at airports and land borders, doing away with a Covid-19 restriction that goes back to the Trump administration.
What should travellers know?
According to the new rules, air travel from previously restricted countries will be allowed in the US after travellers show proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test.
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Land travel from Mexico and Canada will require proof of vaccination but no test, as per AP.
It means that all non-American and non-immigrant travellers have to show proof of vaccination before airlines allow them to board US-bound flights.
Children under 18 travelling with vaccinated adults are exempt from the vaccination requirement. Even as the US is largely wide open, some state and local restrictions will still be applicable.
Airlines are expecting more travellers from Europe and other countries. Going by the data from travel and analytics firm Cirium, airlines are witnessing flights between the United Kingdom and the US by 21 per cent this month over last month.
For air travellers, the airlines are required to verify vaccine records and match them against ID. It is to be noted if they don’t, then they could face fines of up to nearly $35,000 per violation.
Airlines will also collect information about passengers for contact-tracing efforts. There will be CDC workers spot-checking travellers for compliance in the US at land borders, Customs and Border Protection agents will check vaccine proof.
The change will have a profound effect on the borders with Mexico and Canada, where travelling back and forth was a way of life until the pandemic hit and the U.S. shut down non-essential travel.
“We’re taking an important step forward in operationalising this new system as it relates to international air travel by releasing a series of documents that will help airlines and travellers get ready for November 8 and ensure a smooth transition to the new system,” a senior Biden administration official said previewing the regulation earlier, as per the Hindustan Times report.
In fact, under the new protocol, the airlines will only accept WHO-approved vaccines.
“Individuals can be considered fully vaccinated ≥2 weeks (more than two weeks) after receipt of the last dose if they have received any single dose of an FDA approved/authorised or WHO EUL (emergency use listing) approved single-dose series (i.e., Janssen), or any combination of two doses of an FDA approved/authorised or WHO emergency use listed Covid-19 two-dose series (i.e. mixing and matching),” the White House had said then.
WHO has recognised 10 vaccines, and one of them is the Serum Institute of India’s Covidshield, which is the widely administered Indian version of AstraZeneca’s vaccine that the US has not approved but pre-ordered millions of does for its stockpile.