From early on in the pandemic, the United States closed its borders to most of the world. Travel has been restricted from the European Union, the UK, China, and Iran for over a year, with other countries including India and Brazil being added to the restricted list later on.
However, the US government has announced its plans to soon begin allowing vaccinated travelers back in, although an exact date hasn’t been specified.
A White House official said in a statement that President Joe Biden’s administration does recognize how important international travel is and that it hopes to reopen as quickly as possible and welcome visitors from abroad, as long as it’s in a “safe and sustainable manner”.
Officials are currently developing “a phased approach that over time will mean, with limited exceptions, that foreign nationals traveling to the United States — from all countries — need to be fully vaccinated.”
Although there’s currently no specified timeframe for these changes, this is still significant progress, as leaders from around the world have been urging for the travel ban to be lifted and for borders to reopen as quickly as possible.
The European Union recently opened its borders to US travelers, with certain conditions. However, there has been a surge in cases in the US, particularly in areas with low levels of vaccination.
On Monday, the US reached its vaccination goal of 70% of adults. This was nearly a month later than planned, and hospitalizations are at the highest levels since last summer.
The US had recently said it would continue to restrict international arrivals, despite this pressure. With new variants of COVID-19 and low vaccination rates in some states, it was considered too high a risk.
But, a group is now developing a system that’s “consistent and safe” for when travel does reopen. It’s likely this would include requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test result.