The U.S. government confirmed it will lift restrictions on international travelers beginning Nov. 8, allowing individuals fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to cross the border.
White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz confirmed the change on Twitter, calling the new U.S. travel policy “guided by public health, stringent and consistent.” The change applies to both land and air travel.
The U.S. in September announced that it was looking to a November date to begin allowing foreign citizens into the country following more than 18 months of borders being closed for non-U.S. citizens due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Travelers will need to show proof of vaccination prior to boarding a flight to the U.S. as well as negative results from a Covid-19 test taken within three days of departure.
Global Business Travel Association CEO Suzanne Neufang in a statement hailed the move. “I am delighted that the U.S. will reopen its borders to the many countries shut out for so many months—and in our most recent GBTA pandemic recovery poll, nearly 75 percent of respondents wholeheartedly agree with this particular action,” she said. “International travel is critical to promoting global trade and growing worldwide understanding.”
U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow in a statement noted that the formal setting of a reopening date “is critically important for planning—for airlines, for travel-supported businesses, and for millions of travelers worldwide who will now advance plans to visit the United States once again. Reopening to international visitors will provide a jolt to the economy and accelerate the return of travel-related jobs that were lost due to travel restrictions.”
“The first two weeks of October 2021 have seen a 76 percent increase in the volume of U.K.-U.S. air bookings, as compared to the same period in September 2021,” said John Keichline, CEO of Reed & Mackay North America, in a statement. “Following the announcement today that U.S. borders will re-open to fully vaccinated travelers on Nov. 8, we expect to see this increase further.”
Reacting to the announcement, Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, which operates a number of flights between the U.K. and U.S., in a statement said that “we’ve been steadily ramping up flying to destinations such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and we can’t wait to fly our customers safely to their favourite U.S. cities on holiday or to reconnect with friends, loved ones and colleagues.”
Sean Doyle, CEO and chairman of British Airways, in a statement commented: “Nearly 600 days since the introduction of the U.S. travel ban, this is a pivotal moment for the entire travel industry and finally provides the certainty we have so desperately needed.”
Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, in a statement said: “The restart of this vital corridor will pay huge dividends for both economies and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic and is another important step on the road to recovery for the business travel sector. We now urge both governments to work together to simplify the testing procedures currently required for U.K.-U.S. travel to ensure it is as frictionless as possible.”
Scott Davies, CEO of the Institute of Travel Management, agreed: “The reopening of arguably the U.K. and Ireland’s most important trade and travel corridors is excellent and long anticipated news. We will now see the pent-up demand for business travel between our nations released.
“Consistency and simplicity of the testing protocols will now be essential.”
According to CNN the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention informed airlines that all Food and Drug Administration authorized vaccines and all those with an Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organization will be accepted for land and air crossings. It is not yet clear whether there will be exceptions for travelers under 18, who may not be eligible for vaccinations in their home countries.