The US will lift restrictions for international travelers who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 on 8 November, a White House official said on Friday, allowing people from dozens of countries to reunite with their families and take leisure trips to the US for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
The White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz said international air and land travel would be permitted for vaccinated travelers on 8 November.
“This policy is guided by public health, stringent and consistent,” Munoz said in a tweet.
Early last year, the US banned visitors from more than 30 countries, including China, the UK and most of the EU, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On 20 September, the White House said it would lift these restrictions in November, but had not said what date it would lift them.
Countries affected by the restrictions and the travel industry have been lobbying the US for months to make it easier for people to travel between the countries.
US travel industry stocks rose on Friday morning in response to the news, with air carrier American Airlines up 1.9%, hotel group Marriott International up 2.2% and the cruise line company Carnival Corp up 1.3%, according to the Reuters news agency.
Under current policy, only US citizens, their immediate families, green card holders and those with national interest exemptions (NIE) can travel into the US if they have been in the restricted countries in the past two weeks.
After the restrictions are lifted on 8 November, foreign travelers entering the US by air will have to provide a recent negative Covid-19 test and proof of vaccination before boarding the flight.
Details on the exemptions for unvaccinated travelers have not been announced, though it is expected that children will be exempt from the vaccination requirement.
A White House official told CNN that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had informed airlines that the US would accept people who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just the vaccines approved for use in the US. This includes the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in conjunction with Oxford University, which has not been given regulatory approval for use in the US but is widely used in Canada and the UK.
“We anticipate the same will be true at the land border,” the official said.
On Tuesday, the White House announced it would also lift restrictions for fully vaccinated people entering the US by vehicle, rail and ferry in November, an announcement welcomed in Canada and Mexico.
These travelers will be asked about vaccination status during the standard US customs process and unlike air travelers, will not have to show a recent negative Covid-19 test.
People who have been allowed to travel across the land borders, such as commercial truck drivers and students, will have to show proof of vaccination starting in January.