The U.S. just announced a new international air travel standard on Monday, cementing plans to drop the ban on flights from foreign nationals come November, which includes people affected by the current travel ban, according to an initial report from AP News.
However, all flights into the U.S. will now require proof of full vaccination, in addition to valid proof that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within three days of flying, according to Jeff Zients, the White House's COVID-19 coordinator.
US citizens will need a COVID-19 test one day before returning
U.S. President Biden will also strengthen testing rules for unvaccinated citizens, who will be required to get tested one day before making a return flight to the United States. Zients also said that passengers who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to quarantine, as part of a new wide-reaching policy designed to replace the amalgam of travel restrictions slapped into place by former President Donald Trump in 2020, which were tightened by the incoming Biden early in 2021 to further restrict travel for non-citizens. According to Biden's early-2021 restrictions, non-citizens were restricted from travel if they had been in the E.U., the U.K., Iran, Brazil, China, India, the Republic of Ireland, or South Africa in the last 14 days.
"This is based on individuals rather than a country based approach, so it's a stronger system," said Zients of the new flight policy announced on Monday. The U.K. and E.U. had already started allowing vaccinated U.S. travelers to enter their territories without quarantine, in a bid to boost tourism and business, but as the delta variant spread across the U.S., the E.U. recommended reimposing restrictions on travelers from the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will also that airlines gather contact information on all international travelers, so tracing is more streamlined, added Zients.
The travel industry cheers Biden's new COVID-19 standards
As of writing, there was no mention of which vaccines should or would be accepted under the new system, and whether vaccines that haven't seen approval in the U.S. system will be acceptable. Zients left this up to the CDC, adding that the new travel standard will necessitate immediate changes in land border policies, which limit cross-border movement with both Canada and Mexico. Naturally, the travel industry celebrated the new standard, which saw serious losses in revenue from declines caused by restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We applaud the Biden Administration for establishing a path to re-opening international travel to the U.S.," said Morgan Durrant, a spokesperson for Delta Air Lines, according to the report. "Science tells us that vaccinations coupled with testing is the safest way to re-open travel and we are optimistic this important decision will allow for the continued economic recovery both in the U.S. and abroad and the reunification of families who have been separated more than 18 months." While the COVID-19 coronavirus and its economic impact are far from finished with us, we're edging closer to taking a major step to reuniting a world tragically divided since the onset of the first waves.
This was a developing story and was regularly updated as new information became available.