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US Resumes International Travel and Reunions

The US flung its doors open to vaccinated international travelers, welcoming visitors who've been shut out of the country amid coronavirus pandemic

US Resumes International Travel and Reunions

On Monday, the United States completely reopened to several vaccinated international travelers and allowed friends and families to come together for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic appeared. The decision offered a boost to the travel industry of the country, while the restrictions closed the United States to millions of people for around twenty months.

Permanent residents and American citizens were always permitted to enter the country, but the travel upset business travelers, the travel bans grounded tourists and usually kept families far apart. Travelers who want to enter the country must have a negative coronavirus test and proof of vaccination. There were several prolonged clinches at airports from coast to coast.

On the United States borders with Canada and Mexico, where traveling out and back was a way of life before the outbreak, the reopening brought relief for the travelers. However, shops, malls, and restaurants in the United States border towns face unhealthy business amid the lack of visitors from Mexico. Retail sales in San Ysidro drop around seventy-five percent from pre-pandemic levels, forcing almost three hundred businesses to close.

Sales fell in half at David’s Western Wear shop in Nogales, Arizona – the manufacturer of boots – which are popular among Mexicans. The owner of the business, David Moore, hopes his specialty products lure back customers. Furthermore, several Mexicans are trying to take expired visas renewed because of a backlog.

Passenger Pressure on Airliners

The Lufthansa Group told CNN that it was operating thirty-one flights to the United States on Monday, all fully booked. Moreover, Virgin Atlantic said its flights were ninety-eight percent full while both British Airways and Swiss Air said passenger size on flights departing to the United States was large. Likewise, several Delta flights due to arrive on Monday were hundred percent full with high load factors in the coming weeks. According to Delta spokesperson Morgan Durrant, the carrier has seen a four hundred and fifty percent surge in international bookings in the six weeks since the United States reopening announcement.

A slow recovery seems to be in the cards in the U.S. for international air travel. According to the statistics from aviation analytics firm OAG, the number of occupied seats arriving in the United States from Europe this summer is projected to be around sixty-seven percent of the December 2019 level. The Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) face a shortage of staff and approaching a deadline right before Thanksgiving for Biden federal mandate employee vaccinations.

Which vaccinations are valid for entry to the United States?

With various vaccines in use all over the world, several travelers are questioning if their vaccines are acceptable for entry in the U.S. All Food and Drug Administration authorized vaccines, along with vaccines that have an Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organization, will be acceptable for entry into the country. As of 8th November, the following are the acceptable vaccines for the travelers:

  • Moderna
  • Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Johnson & Johnson/Janssen
  • Sinovac
  • Covishield
  • AstraZeneca
  • Sinopharm/BIBP
  • Covaxin

According to the CDC guidelines, people considered completely vaccinated two weeks after their second shot in a two-dose series or fifteen days after a one-dose vaccine. The authorities will also accept mixed-dose vaccinations.

What are the necessary requirements for passengers traveling by air?

Air travelers who want to enter the U.S. also need a negative coronavirus test. Testing is necessary for all completely vaccinated air travelers ages two and up, irrespective of nationality. Passengers must need to test negative for coronavirus within three days of the departure of their flight for the U.S. In addition, a minimal number of unvaccinated international travelers and unvaccinated Americans exempted from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement must test negative within one day of departing for the United States.

The United States Reopens International Border and Happy Reunions
The United States Reopens International Border and Happy Reunions
Source: Web

Several airliners have web portals and mobile apps on their websites where travelers can find testing and vaccination information digitally. For example, most Delta airlines customers on international routes bound for the United States can directly verify and upload their vaccination proof status using the Delta FlyReady tool. Likewise, the mobile digital pass of British Airways, VeriFly, works on all flights of airliners to the U.S.

At Land Borders of the U.S.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) forecasts a surge in travel volumes and wait times at land & ferry crossings and provokes travelers to have their vaccination and identification documents ready. Additionally, the agency asks travelers to use facial biometrics and CBP One app. In addition, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security stated in a press release Monday that the department would be working to avoid long waits.

Paper and digital documentation are eligible for vaccination proof, and vaccine cards should not be in English. Children under eighteen traveling into the U.S. with inoculated adults are exempt from the vaccination requirement. Coronavirus tests are not mandatory at ferry and land crossings.

According to the United States Travel Association, the twenty-eight European nations that were banned made up thirty-seven percent of overseas travelers in 2019. As the reopening of the travel began, airline carriers are increasing flights between the United States and the United Kingdom by twenty-one percent this month over the last month, according to the statistics from travel and analytics firm Cirium.

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