US eases travel rules for vaccinated visitors, unvaccinated Americans require tests

The travel industry is getting back to normal despite the fact that COVID is still raging. Although vaccines are widely available in the West, many underdeveloped countries are still struggling to vaccinate their population while too many Americans are refusing to get vaccinated. Hopefully new fundraisers will help bring vaccinations to areas in most need. Recently, the cruise industry in the U.S. has won the right to require guests twelve and older to have proof of vaccination before setting sail. Since late spring, the EU and other international destinations have opened their borders to fully vaccinated Americans. However, the U.S. was not allowing most foreign visitors with some exceptions. The travel ban was put into place by Donald Trump and upheld by Biden. That ban will be lifted starting in early November. Fully vaccinated foreign nationals will be able to enter the U.S. The U.S. is requiring foreign travelers to show a negative COVID test within 72 hours of travel in addition to proof of vaccination. American citizens traveling from outside the U.S. will be required to show proof of a negative COVID test. Below are a few more details via People:

While there won’t be any requirements to quarantine once inside the U.S., Zients said there will still be enhanced contact tracing in place and face masks will still be required on flights.

Unvaccinated Americans traveling back into the country will need to provide a negative test within one day of departure as well, and will need to test negative again when they arrive stateside.

These new changes are expected to take effect in early November, NBC News reported.

Travel bans were originally put in place early last year by then-President Donald Trump. Current President Joe Biden kept the rules in effect shortly after taking office in January.

E.U. and British officials previously lifted bans for travelers from the U.S. and other locations entering many of their territories in the spring, NBC News reported.

“This vaccination requirement deploys the best tool we have in our arsenal to keep people safe and prevent the spread of the virus,” said Zients, per USA Today. “Vaccines continue to show that they’re highly effective, including against the delta variant, and the new system allows us to implement strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Zients also said, per NBC News, that the CDC will issue a contact tracing order that will require airlines to collect information from travelers heading into the county, such as a phone number or email address. This will allow the organization to alert travelers if they have potentially been exposed to COVID-19.

[From People]

I just want to say how happy I am that the Biden/Harris administration has intelligent people like coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients representing our country. Zeints’s responses for this interview were succinct and appropriate. I honestly don’t know how to feel about the reopening of borders. I like that most countries are requiring proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test but COVID is still spreading despite these measures. On the other hand, I have friends from the EU who are afraid to go back home because they might not be able to reenter the U.S. despite living and working here. So lifting the travel ban is good. There is no real solution as we are still dealing with COVID. It has been a year and a half since the world ground to a halt and at some point we are going to have move back to normalcy.

In my opinion, the two things holding us back from that are anti-vaxxers, and the delay on the waiver for the protections on the vaccine patents. We can’t truly open borders if folks are traveling to places that cannot vaccinate their citizens. Plus Americans should be required to be vaccinated to reenter the country. It is appalling that American states have millions of excess vaccines due to lack of demand while nations around the world can’t vaccinate their people. Hopefully we can achieve worldwide vaccine equity while implementing more domestic mandates.

Photos credit: Anna Shvets on Pexels and Lisanto and Atoms on Unsplash

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