Monday, 20 September 2021

U.S. to allow British travellers back in the country in ban to end

The Biden Administration has confirmed it will relax its ban on travellers from the UK and EU during November, providing they have been fully vaccinated and produce a negative result. 

The White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients made the announcement earlier today, "This is based on individuals rather than a country-based approach, so it's a stronger system. Most importantly, foreign nationals flying to the US will be required to be fully vaccinated," 

Foreign travellers will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination and show proof of a negative test result under the new rules. They will also be required to provide contact information, but they will not be required to quarantine. According to officials, there are to be some exceptions to the new rules, such as children who are not currently eligible to be vaccinated.

At the moment, it is still unclear if the U.S. will allow those vaccinated with the Oxford Astra Zenica vaccines to enter, as this is not yet approved by U.S regulators.  Zients said this would be determined by the US Centers for Disease Control at a later stage.

The news has been widely welcomed, former IAG and British Airways boss, Willie Walsh, now the Director-General of IATA said:. “Today’s announcement is a major step forward. Allowing access to the US for those vaccinated will open travel to the US for many who have been locked out for the past 18 months. This is excellent news for families and loved ones who have suffered through the heartache and loneliness of separation. It’s good for the millions of livelihoods in the US that depend on global tourism. And it will boost the economic recovery by enabling some key business travel markets,”

United Airlines said:  "The Administration’s decision to safely expand international travel to the United States is welcome news for our customers and United is ready to implement these new requirements. We support this decision and look forward to working closely with the administration as the details of this policy are further solidified."

United was the first airline to introduce a comprehensive contact tracing program in collaboration with the CDC and passengers can book COVID tests on its app. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the news was " A fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again,"

American Airlines boss Doug Parker said he welcomed the "science-based approach" to removing the restrictions, "With the shared goals of health and safety always at the forefront, we're looking forward to welcoming more customers back to easy, seamless international trips for business, for leisure, and to reconnect with family and friends," 

John Holland-Kaye of Heathrow Airport said: "Connectivity between the US and the UK is part of the bedrock of the global economy."

The EU said: "We welcome US announcement that fully vaccinated EU travellers will soon be able to travel to the US again.  A long-awaited step for separated families & friends, and good news for business.  We'll continue working for safe travel."

There is no doubt this is good news for transatlantic airlines, as well as the travel industry as a whole as it will lead us forward in a movement to open up borders again. But, all nations owe their populations to keep abreast of developing infections, new varients or other such changes and be open about such things, as this pandemic has proved, perhaps more than many others, we truly are living in an interconnected global community. 

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