The US has announced that it will open its borders to vaccinated UK travelers in November, sparking a flurry of flight bookings. A COVID travel ban, imposed by former President Donald Trump will be lifted on the UK, Ireland, 26 Schengen Area countries, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.
However, the lifting of travel restrictions, which have been in effect for more than a year, do not apply to Canada and Mexico. Meanwhile, the exact date for the lifting of restrictions has not yet been disclosed.
The White House announced that travelers from the UK and other named countries will be exempt from quarantine measures. Meanwhile, children who are currently ineligible for the vaccine will be exempt from the requirement to be vaccinated.
Lifting of travel ban welcomed
The lifting of the travel ban has been widely welcomed. UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: “I am delighted that from November, the President of the United States is reinstating transatlantic travel so fully vaccinated UK nationals can visit the USA. It’s a fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again.”
Meanwhile, the European Commission has also celebrated the news, describing it as a ‘long awaited step for separated families and friends, and good news for business’.
A tweet on the Commission’s official Twitter account said: “We welcome the US announcement that fully vaccinated EU travellers will soon be able to travel to the US again.”
Elsewhere, the news has been well received by the EU’s Executive Vice President for Economy and Trade Commissioner, Valdis Dombrovskis, the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, the European Union Ambassador to the United States, Stavros Lambrinidis, and more.
Borders kept closed
Prior to the travel ban being lifted, the US had kept its borders closed to travelers who had been in the 26 Schengen Area countries, Ireland, the UK, Brazil, China, India, Iran and South Africa in the past 14 days, for almost 18 months.
The ban faced a widespread backlash, especially in recent months. In August, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas cancelled his trip to the US in protest of the ban, calling it ‘unfair’.
The announcement lifting the travel ban came as a surprise to many, given that only recently, the US government had said that it was too early to ease restrictions.
However, it’s understood that with the data no longer supporting the travel ban, a decision was made out of the blue.
One diplomatic source said: “The US, over the weekend, just weighed up the countervailing forces: annoy some Americans with a policy that could be characterised as being weak on COVID; or continue to alienate your European allies who are growing increasingly irritable.”
Following the announcement, airline shares rose, with British Airways owner IAG seeing as much as a 10% rise. Meanwhile, Shai Weiss, the chief executive of Virgin Atlantic described the move to lift the travel ban as a ‘major milestone for travel recovery’.
Chairman and CEO of American Airlines, Doug Parker, said: “We welcome the science-based approach to lifting travel restrictions.”
“With the shared goals of health and safety always at the forefront, we’re looking forward to welcoming more customers back to easy, seamless international trips for business, for leisure, and to reconnect with family and friends,” Mr Parker said.
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