Following the statement on September 20 that the Biden administration would welcome these folks back sometime in “early November,” the United States stated today that it will formally reopen to fully vaccinated travellers on Nov. 8.
Even though the date of November 8 has been set, there are still some uncertainties about what constitutes acceptable proof of immunizations and how the entire process will unfold. So far, the following is known regarding the reopening of the United States.
By reopening U.S. borders on Nov. 8 to fully vaccinated international travellers by land and air, the Biden administration said it was “putting in place a global international travel policy that is informed by public health, strict, and consistent.” The White House made the announcement on Oct. 15.
This is welcome news for Australian travellers, particularly NSW residents who will be able to confirm their flights in early November to start travelling from 8 November. Bookings for flights to the United States have already increased dramatically from Europe and increasing from Australia too given the restrictions in some states will be scraped on December 01.
When, where, and how will vaccines be accepted?
Prior to Nov. 8, specifics on which vaccines would be accepted for admission into the United States, as well as the sorts of proof required, are expected. All FDA-approved and WHO-approved Emergency Use vaccines will be permitted for air travel. These vaccines are also approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). The vaccines are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca-SK Bio
Others, including the Chinese Sinovac and Russian Sputnik V vaccines, may be added to the list in the future, but this is not clear yet.
U.S. individuals and residents cannot yet produce an official vaccine certificate using an easy-to-use app.
The status of foreign paper vaccine cards and photocopies of vaccine records is still unclear currently.
Another concern is having a uniform approach to immigration across the country. Vaccination requirements differ from state to state and city to city, but no matter where you go in the United States, you’ll need to produce proof of vaccination to board a flight.
Vaccination certificates, mask-wearing, and indoor capacity limitations are all still strictly regulated in some states. Most interior locations such as restaurants and bars need confirmation of vaccination, or a recent negative COVID-19 test in cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Consequently, any city and/or state you intend to visit will require you to validate their COVID-19 protocol. Travel is currently restricted to individuals who are fully vaccinated; therefore, proof of inoculation should be sufficient and supersede any testing processes which are normally reserved for those who have not been adequately vaccinated.
While all tourists are required to be completely vaccinated with the WHO-approved Covid-19 vaccine, the White House made an exception for minors. Children under the age of 18 will be excluded from the travel immunisation requirement. People who have had vaccinations from two different providers will also be treated as immunised.
While additional information is awaited, visitors who are properly immunised can book travel arrangements to the U.S. with confidence.
By Joe Cusmano