The White House announced on Monday that airlines will be required to check U.S.-bound air travellers proof of Covid-19 vaccination and provide contact information to federal officials as part of new rules that will go into effect when the United States lifts restrictions on international visitors next month.
The Biden administration announced earlier this month that it intends to relax pandemic restrictions that have prevented most visitors from more than 30 countries, including the United Kingdom and Brazil, on Nov. 8, allowing vaccinated passengers in. The rules were implemented first by the Trump administration in early 2020 and then extended this year by the Biden administration.
The new rules, issued by President Joe Biden on Monday, will be applied to foreign visitors, including those coming to the U.S. from countries that were not on the prohibited list.
Travelers under the age of 18 and those with medical conditions that prevent them from receiving a vaccine are exempt from the visitors’ immunization restrictions, according to senior Biden administration officials. If they are going with a fully vaccinated adult, foreign tourists between the ages of 2 and 17 must still complete a Covid test three days before departure.
Those travelling on non-tourist visas from countries with limited vaccination availability are also exempt. According to a senior administration jobs official, there are around 50 nations that would fit the definition, but individuals who acquire the exemption for limited vaccination availability must present a letter from the US government declaring the urgent necessity for travel.
Officials consider fully vaccinated two weeks since the last dose of a Covid-19 vaccine or a single-dose vaccine-like Johnson & Johnson’s. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month said it would accept a combination of two doses from vaccines that have Food and Drug Administration authorization or are on the World Health Organization’s list for emergency use. Digital and paper copies of vaccine certificates will be accepted.
The CDC will require airlines to gather and track contact information from passengers, which may be shared with government agents. For more than a year, airlines, hotels, and other travel firms have lobbied the United States government to reopen borders. When the Covid epidemic began in early 2020, the United States imposed these limitations.
Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and American Airlines officials indicated this month that trans-Atlantic bookings have increased since the Biden administration revealed plans to replace country-specific travel prohibitions with immunization requirements.
“Clearly, there’s significant pent-up demand for travel to and from the U.S. and many customers are eager to return to travel when it’s permitted,” American’s president, Robert Isom, said on a quarterly call on Thursday.
European countries began opening up to U.S. travelers in the spring with testing and vaccine requirements, but the move was not reciprocated by Washington.