US to end travel bans for vaccinated passengers

The United States announced on Sept. 20 it will lift COVID travel bans on all air passengers in November if they are fully vaccinated and undergo testing and contact tracing.

The unprecedented restrictions had kept relatives, friends and business travelers around the world separated for many months as the pandemic grinds on.

Jeffrey Zients, the coronavirus response coordinator for President Joe Biden, told reporters the new "consistent approach" would take effect "early November."

The easing of travel restrictions, imposed by Donald Trump 18 months ago as the COVID-19 pandemic first erupted, marks a significant shift by Biden and answers a major demand from European allies at a time of strained diplomatic relations.

Numerous safeguards will remain in place to suppress spread of the virus, which has already killed more than 675,000 Americans and is resurgent after what many had hoped was a lasting dip earlier this year.

"Most importantly, foreign nationals flying to the U.S. will be required to be fully vaccinated," Zients said.

It was not immediately clear if the new rule only applied to U.S.-approved vaccines or if other brands, such as those produced in China or Russia, would also qualify. Zients said that would be determined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Restrictions on vehicle movement from Canada and Mexico will remain in place.

Zients said passengers will need to show they were fully vaccinated before boarding planes bound for the United States, as well as providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days.

Americans not fully vaccinated will still be able to enter, but only on testing negative within a day of travel.

Masks will be obligatory on U.S.-bound...

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