US President Joe Biden signed an order on Monday detailing new international travel guidelines, including stricter requirements for unvaccinated people coming to the country, marking a pivotal change in US pandemic-era air travel policies.
Beginning in early 2020, the US imposed historic travel limitations in which non-citizens from Brazil, China, India, Iran, South Africa, the UK and many Schengen area countries were barred from entering the US if they were in those nations within the previous two weeks.
From November 8, the US will move beyond “country-by country restrictions” to refocus on “an air travel policy that relies primarily on vaccination to advance the safe resumption of international air travel to the United States,” Mr Biden said in a statement released by the White House.
Non-citizen, non-immigrant travellers are now required to be fully vaccinated with either a Food and Drug Administration or a World Health Organisation-approved vaccine before entering the US.
“There will be very limited exceptions to the vaccination requirements for non-citizens who are not immigrants,” a senior administration official said on a background call on Monday.
“[The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention] has determined the very narrow list of exemptions, including children under 18 and those countries with less than a 10 per cent total vaccination rate due to lack of availability of vaccines.”
Vaccinated people will be required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days of departure and unvaccinated people will need to provide a negative test taken within one day of departure.
“Together, these policies aim to limit the risk that Covid-19, including variants of the virus that causes Covid-19, is introduced, transmitted and spread into and throughout the United States, potentially overwhelming United States healthcare and public health resources, endangering the health and safety of the American people and threatening the security of our civil aviation system,” Mr Biden said.
Airlines will verify proof of vaccination and negative tests, as well as contact information for the US CDC to bolster its contact-tracing efforts among arrivals.