The U.S. on Monday lifted travel restrictions on visitors from 33 countries, including Canada, Mexico, and European nations, for the first time since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. All travelers will have to show proof they have been fully inoculated with one of the COVID-19 vaccines approved by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization, and visitors from everywhere but Canada and Mexico will have show a negative coronavirus test to enter.
The U.S. travel and tourism industries were eagerly bracing for a deluge of travelers, and foreign nationals who have not seen loved ones in the U.S. for nearly 20 months were excited about the lifted travel ban, but people from green-lighted countries who were vaccinated with one of the shots not approved by the U.S. or WHO — namely Russia's Sputnik V and China's CanSino — were scrambling to get a Pfizer or Moderna booster.
This is less of an issue in Canada, where the WHO-approved AstraZeneca vaccine was widely used, than in Mexico, which ordered nearly 20 million doses of Sputnik V and 12 million of CanSino. "They screwed those of us who got this vaccine," Mexico City resident and Sputnik V recipient Rosenda Ruiz, 52, told The Associated Press. "There are lots of Mexicans who want to travel, but we can't. I am thinking of getting whatever other vaccine I can get." Hungary also inoculated 1 million citizens with Sputnik V, as did, to a lesser extent, Slovakia.
The WHO last week called Europe an "epicenter of the pandemic," especially in areas of Central and Eastern Europe where there are low vaccination rates.