For the first time since the start of the pandemic, foreign travellers can enter the States. Under Former President Donald Trump, the US White House imposed the travel-ban in March 2020 during the emerging outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite Trump’s demise and departure from the presidential office at the beginning of 2021, in his first week in office, President Joe Biden renewed the ban initially imposed by Trump. Now, after 20 long months, double-jabbed families and friends can reunite in the US.
Here’s the lowdown on the lifting of the UK travel-ban – and what new American international travel rules will look like.
As well as having at least two vaccinations, all UK visitors over the age of 18 must undergo testing before flying – to show negative Covid-19 test result – and provide detailed personal information (telephone and email) for contact tracing. These safety checks result in travellers not having to quarantine on entry.
The US is currently on the UK’s green list for travel, meaning that double-vaxxed Americans will no longer need a pre-departure test upon arrival to the UK. Instead, they must take a test on or before the second day of their arrival, which, if negative, means they will not have to quarantine.
The border reopened at 05:01 GMT on 8 November, with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic celebrating the end of the travel ban through a synchronised first departure, both leaving Heathrow at 08:51. America’s strict rules prevented entry to most non-US citizens who had been in the UK and a handful of other European cities, as well as China, Iran, Brazil, India, and South Africa. In addition to these overseas countries, America has opened its borders to its neighbours Canada and Mexico, again, if said travellers too are fully vaccinated. American travellers have been able to enter the UK since 28 July.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said these transatlantic flights are “at the heart of aviation” and described this as a “significant moment” for UK-US travel.
The US’ new travel policy applies to all individuals that have received vaccines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and vaccines Listed for Emergency Use (EUL) by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The 20-month ban has remained lengthy due to the UK being on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s highest risk category for Covid, level 4 or “very high” since July.
Therefore, travellers who have received one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two doses of the following vaccines will be allowed to enter the US:
Vaccine passports are required and certificates such as the NHS Covid Pass are accepted. Children are exempt from the vaccination requirement, however those aged between 2 and 17 will have to show a negative test, taken three to five days after arrival. As well as Covid-19 regulations, as per ordinary rules, all British travellers will require a visa or visa waiver to enter, and this must be applied for at least three days before travel.
Thanksgiving is just days away; the need for visitors is one of the driving factors in reopening US borders, hoping to revive tourism and boost the economy. After an innumerably damaging 20 months, airlines have increased UK-US flight schedules to cover the increased demand. Travel data firm Cirium predicts almost 3700 flights scheduled to operate between the UK and US during November. This is a 20 per cent increase on last month, however, remains almost 50 per cent lower than pre-pandemic levels.
By Phoebe Fraser
For more information on international travel click here.
For more information on travelling to the UK from abroad click here.
For information on the US Embassy and Consulates in the UK click here.