US to lift travel ban from UK and EU in November

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US to lift travel ban from UK and EU in November, reports say - Evan Vucci /AP
US to lift travel ban from UK and EU in November, reports say - Evan Vucci /AP

The United States will re-open to air passengers from the UK, the European Union and many other countries who have received Covid-19 vaccines in early November, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said on Monday.

It came after Boris Johnson was set to push Joe Biden to change Covid-19 travel rules and let Britons fly to America when they meet on Tuesday in the White House.

The Prime Minister said the easing of US travel rules for fully vaccinated travellers was “a fantastic boost for business and trade” adding it was “great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again”.

US to lift travel ban from UK and EU in November - Stefan Rousseau /PA
US to lift travel ban from UK and EU in November - Stefan Rousseau /PA

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss welcomed the “excellent news” about the easing of US travel restrictions, saying it was “important for our economic recovery, families and trade”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the move was the work of "brilliant collaboration".

The new measures marked a significant shift by Joe Biden and came amid demands from European allies at a time of strained diplomatic relations.

Asked whether it was a "political move" in the wake of tensions with allies, Mr Zients said it was an "individual rather than country based approach" and based on public health.

He said the US had acted "with science as our guide".

Dame Karen Pierce, the UK's ambassador to the US, said: "Today's travel announcement is great news for families and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.

"We are grateful the US has recognised the progress the UK has made against Covid-19, including high vaccination rates and declining cases."

She added: "This decision means that more Brits can reunite with loved ones in the United States, more British holidaymakers can spend their hard-earned pounds in the American tourism sector, and more business activity can boost both of our economies."

Under new guidance passengers will have to show proof of vaccination before boarding a US-bound plane and a test with a negative result within three days of departure.

There will also be contact tracing, with airlines collecting phone numbers and email addresses of passengers. Airlines will keep individual passengers' contact tracing details for 30 days.

Mr Zients said: "That will allow the CDC to follow up if someone around them has tested positive."

A senior US administration official said: "We'll be moving to a consistent requirement for all air travellers coming to the US."

This would "permit travel by individuals and families and business people from the EU and UK and other countries to the US."

There will be no quarantine for vaccinated travelers arriving in the US. Mr Zients confirmed: "This applies to all international travel starting early November."

On which vaccines will be accepted, Mr Zients said he would defer to the CDC. He said vaccines were "effective against the delta variant" and "the best tool in our armoury".

Any unvaccinated Americans returning home will have to take a test the day ahead of travelling the US, and another test after arriving.

The European Commission also welcomed the decision, calling it a "long-awaited step".

"We welcome US announcement that fully vaccinated EU travellers will soon be able to travel to the US again. A long-awaited step for separated families and friends, and good news for business," it said, in a tweeted statement.

EU industry commissioner Thierry Breton, in Washington, called the US move "a logical decision given the success of our EU vaccination campaign".

The travel restrictions were imposed 18 months ago by Donald Trump as the pandemic first erupted.

The US currently prohibits most non-US citizens who, within the last 14 days, have been in the UK and Europe, or other countries including Ireland, China, India and Brazil.

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