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After almost two years of strict travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biden administration has announced that vaccinated people from the United Kingdom and the European Union will be permitted to enter the United States from November onwards.
Those traveling to the U.S. will be allowed entry if they are both fully vaccinated and undergo COVID-19 testing and so-called “contact tracing.” They will not be required to quarantine.
This decision comes after months of pressure from European allies. Prime Minister of the U.K., Boris Johnson, celebrated the news, saying he was “delighted.”
“I am delighted that from November, [President Biden] is reinstating transatlantic travel so fully vaccinated UK nationals can visit the USA,” Johnson tweeted. “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.”
I am delighted that from November, @POTUS 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.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) September 20, 2021
According to the BBC, there will be some exceptions to this new policy, such as for children who are not eligible to be vaccinated.
White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients announced the new rules and did not specify whether only U.S.-approved vaccines would be accepted. He added that the new rules would come into effect in early November, giving agencies and airlines “time to prepare.”
“The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to issue a contact tracing order requiring airlines to collect information from US-bound travelers, including a phone number and email address, to alert travelers of potential exposure,” CNN explained. “Airlines will be required to keep contact tracing information for 30 days.”
“This will enable CDC and state and local public health officials to follow up with inbound travelers and those around them if someone has potentially been exposed to Covid-19 and other pathogens,” Zients said. He also noted that this tracing requirement would be used more broadly in the future in order to protect “against any future public health threats.”
As The Hill reported, Zients said the protocols will “protect Americans here at home, and enhance the safety of the international air travel system.” He also said that vaccination rates on an international scale made this new policy possible.
“Today nearly 6 billion shots have been administered globally and dozens of countries have strong vaccination rates. Vaccines continue to show that they’re highly effective, including against the delta variant,” Zients said.
“Today’s travel announcement is great news for families and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. We are grateful the US has recognized the progress the UK has made against COVID-19, including high vaccination rates and declining cases. 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,” said the British ambassador to the U.S., Karen Pierce, in a statement.