After 20 months of travel restrictions, the US is reopening its land and air borders to foreign visitors fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from Monday.
The United States is flinging its doors wide open to vaccinated international travellers on Monday, welcoming many visitors who’ve been shut out of the country for 20 months, reported CNN. 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.
Travellers 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 travellers.
Air travellers also need a negative COVID-19 test. Testing is required of all fully vaccinated air travellers 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 travellers to have their identification and vaccination documents ready. The agency also encourages travellers 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. Travellers 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.
Children under 18 travelling with vaccinated adults are exempt from the vaccination requirement. 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.
US health authorities have said all vaccines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization would be accepted for entry by air.
At the moment, this includes the AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Covaxin, Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines.