The White House announced on September 20th that the travel bans to the United States, which we have reported on previous articles in our blog on June 2020 and July 2021, will be eliminated “at the beginning of November” for vaccinated travelers. These bans were progressively imposed by the Trump Administration between January and May 2020 and have had an immense impact on the activities of international companies and executives with interests in the country.
The head of the White House COVID-19 Response Team, Jeff Zients, said foreign travelers must show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test (made three days before boarding the plane) upon entering the country. Zients said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will determine which vaccines will be accepted.
These are long-awaited news that have been delayed especially due to the wave of new cases that have devastated the US in recent months and, associated with it, a slow progress in the vaccination rate in much of the country.
Undoubtedly, a factor that has favored the measure is the fact that a good part of the countries affected by the travel bans have vaccination levels much higher than those of the United States, as shown in the following graph of Our World In Data , which has allowed them to significantly reduce the number of new cases in recent weeks.
The same source provides data on the rate of new daily cases per million people, showing a recent strong reduction in many of the countries affected by the travel ban, with the exception of the United Kingdom.
There are still some unknowns about the new policy, which will be revealed in the coming weeks:
- Exact date in which vaccinated travelers with a negative COVID-19 test will begin to be admitted. Until then, the prohibitions will remain in force and with some exceptions it will be necessary to have a special authorization (National Interest Exception) or spend the 14 days prior to arrival in a country not subject to these restrictions.
- Vaccines that will be accepted. It is hoped that travelers will be admitted when they have received the required vaccination doses from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, which are the ones that have been approved in the US. It is likely that AstraZeneca will also be accepted, although here the doubt arises because it has not yet been approved by the US FDA (Food & Drug Administration). It is not clear in the case of other vaccines.
- COVID-19 test that will be required: It is highly likely that travelers will need to get a test identical to what is currently required for all international passengers upon arrival in the US, including US citizens, for ages equal to or greater than 2 years. The test must be done in the 3 days prior to the trip. Details about the test to be performed are specified in this CDC page.