New travel restrictions will require unvaccinated Americans to face additional testing

Sep 20, 2021

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Unvaccinated Americans flying back to the U.S. will be subject to stricter reentry testing requirements starting in early November, the Biden administration announced Monday, Sept. 20, as part of the administration’s plan to reopen U.S. borders to international travelers.

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“Today, the President is announcing that beginning in early November, the United States will be putting in place strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from passengers flying internationally into the United States, by requiring that adult foreign nationals traveling to the United States be fully vaccinated,” a White House official said via email. “This policy means that we will be replacing the current … travel policies for individual countries with a new global system as of early November, and will be moving to a consistent, stringent requirement for all international air travelers coming to the United States.”

Specifically, all foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. will need to show proof of full vaccination before boarding a flight to come to the U.S. All travelers, including fully vaccinated American citizens, will be required to show results of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure to the U.S.

Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will “continue to strongly recommend against air travel by Americans who are not fully vaccinated,” they will allow unvaccinated Americans to return to the U.S. by providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of departure, in addition to providing proof that they have purchased a viral test to be taken after arrival.

“CDC will also issue a Contact Tracing Order that will require airlines to collect comprehensive contact information for every passenger coming to the United States and to provide that information promptly to CDC upon request, to follow up with travelers who have been exposed to COVID-19 variants or other pathogens,” the White House official said. “These requirements will apply globally.”

Today’s announcement is part of the lifting of former President Donald Trump’s travel ban which closed U.S. borders to nonessential international travel for the past 18 months, including from the European Union, despite the EU welcoming back vaccinated Americans in June. November will mark the first time international travelers are allowed back to the U.S. for tourism since March 2020.

During a press briefing on Sept. 20, White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not specify what vaccines will be accepted nor how proof of vaccination will work, but said she expects that information to be available “as part of the implementation of the process in early November.”

Read more: US will allow vaccinated British, EU travelers from November

Featured photo of White House press secretary Jen Psaki at a press briefing on Sept. 20 by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images.

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