The United States will reopen its borders to foreign visitors who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 beginning on November 8, a White House official has announced, ending an 18-month ban on most travel to the country.
The new U.S. travel policy requires people to be fully vaccinated to enter the country via international flights and land border crossings, White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said on Twitter, adding that the policy “is guided by public health, stringent, and consistent”.
Vaccines that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) will be accepted as sufficient, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Unprecedented U.S. travel restrictions that were put in place in March 2020 near the start of the pandemic have kept out millions of visitors from around the world.
The curbs affected the U.S. tourism industry as well as Canadian and Mexican border communities and prevented many families and foreign workers from reuniting. The U.S. has lagged behind many other countries in lifting such restrictions.
U.S. international air passenger traffic was down 43 percent in August and overall passenger air traffic was down 21 percent from pre-pandemic levels, the U.S. Transportation Department said on Friday.
The U.S. Travel Association has estimated declines in international visits since the pandemic started resulting in more than 250 billion U.S. dollars in lost income.
Airlines have seen an increase in international ticket sales in recent weeks, Nick Calio, chief executive of the Airlines for America industry trade group, said in a statement.