Is the US currently open to tourism? Well, the answer is yes! …And no. Currently, the US is open to tourism for travelers who present a negative COVID-19 test from no more than 3 days prior to flying or proof of recovery from the virus. This is true EXCEPT for those traveling – or that have visited in the 14 days prior to entry- from the list of 39 countries currently on the “at-risk” list.
This list, which includes the Schengen area, Ireland, the UK, Brazil, India, Iran, and South Africa, has been in place since early 2020. But there is good news in the horizon! According to Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 coordinator, the US is finally lifting its travel ban to fully vaccinated tourists in November, after almost 2 years.
This decision comes as a relief to many who have been separated from friends and family for more than 500 days. However, it also seems a little surprising considering the Biden administration recently said that it wasn’t the right time to lift restrictions due to rising COVID-19 cases. It seems that the US is in the midst of its 4th wave, led by the Delta variant, affecting mostly the unvaccinated population.
What we know
While there are many unknowns, there are several things that we do know at this time. The travel ban will be lifted, allowing fully vaccinated non-US citizens traveling by air from the a fore-mentioned list to enter the country. According to Zients, the vaccines accepted will be those approved by the FDA and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The FDA-approved vaccines include: Comirnaty/Pzifer/BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen. The WHO has approved the same ones, but also includes Oxford/AstraZeneca, Covishield, Sinopharm and Sinovac on its list of approved vaccines. Exceptions to this rule will include children who are not eligible for the vaccine.
For vaccinated travelers there will be no need to quarantine upon arrival to the US, something that has not been the case until now. However, a negative COVID-19 test will still be necessary and they will be collecting contact tracing data. This will allow the CDC (Center of Disease Control and Prevention) to get in touch with passengers exposed to COVID-19 during transit after they enter the country. Zients mentioned that there will be “a new global system with strict protocols with a consistent approach for all countries to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
What we don’t know
Though the lift of this travel ban is a sigh of relief and highly anticipated by many, there are still a lot of unknowns. First, it’s still unclear the exact date in which these new rules will come into effect, though Zients clearly stated “early November”.
We also don’t know when the restrictions concerning land borders between Mexico and Canada with the US will be lifted. The current restrictions are said to be in place until late October.
And finally, we still don’t know what the “new global system” for international travelers entering the US will look like and what it will mean for those entering the US.
A few things to keep in mind
Before you start packing your Carry-On Closet, there are still a few things to keep in mind. Once you are on US soil, you need to know what kind of restrictions will apply to the state or states you will be visiting. While many states have lifted domestic travel restrictions and no longer require the use of masks, each state will have their own rules and they can change with little notice. Our recommendation is to always do your research and stay up to date on which state is doing what.
For us at Solgaard, seeing this travel ban lifted is great news and proof that, though it seems that we might be taking two steps forward and one step back, we are, in fact, moving forward.