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World

Updated on: Monday, November 08, 2021, 10:59 PM IST

COVID-19: US lifts pandemic travel ban, opens doors to visitors

Photo: Pexels

Photo: Pexels

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Washington: The US lifted restrictions on Monday on travel from a long list of countries including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, allowing tourists to make long-delayed trips and family members to reconnect with loved ones after more than a year-and-a-half apart because of the pandemic.

Starting Monday, the US is accepting fully vaccinated travellers at airports and land borders, doing away with a Covid-19 restriction that dates back to the Trump administration. The new rules allow air travel from previously restricted countries as long as the traveller has proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test. Land travel from Mexico and Canada will require proof of vaccination but no test.

Airlines are expecting more travellers from Europe and elsewhere. Data from travel and analytics firm Cirium showed airlines are increasing flights between the United Kingdom and the U.S. by 21% this month over last month. The change will have a profound effect on the borders with Mexico and Canada, where travelling back and forth was a way of life until the pandemic hit and the US shut down nonessential travel.

Malls, restaurants and Main Street shops in US border towns have been devastated by the lack of visitors from Mexico. On the boundary with Canada, cross-border hockey rivalries were community traditions until being upended by the pandemic. Churches that had members on both sides of the border are hoping to welcome parishioners they haven't seen during the pandemic shutdown. Loved ones have missed holidays, birthdays and funerals while nonessential air travel was barred, and they are now eager to reconnect.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the US will accept travellers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organisation, not just those in use in the U.S. For air travellers, the airlines are required to verify vaccine records and match them against ID, and if they don't, they could face fines of up to nearly $35,000 per violation.

Airlines will also collect information about passengers for contact tracing efforts. There will be CDC workers spot-checking travellers for compliance in the US. At land borders, Customs and Border Protection agents will check vaccine proof. The moves come as the US has seen its Covid-19 outlook improve dramatically in recent weeks since the summer delta surge that pushed hospitals to the brink in many locations.

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Published on: Monday, November 08, 2021, 10:59 PM IST
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