The US officially plans to lift the US travel ban from November. Visitors from previously banned countries must be double vaccinated to enter, while those who remain unvaccinated face even stricter COVID testing requirements. The move was widely welcomed by the aviation and travel industries.

The travel ban is on the way to be lifted. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Easy flying.

Ban lifted

For millions of people around the world, today has brought the news everyone has hoped for. The travel ban introduced by President Trump in the early days of COVID is set to finally be lifted. For 18 months, the only people allowed to visit the US from the UK, EU and a number of other countries were US citizens, immediate family members and those on a short list of exceptions.

Now President Biden has announced the lifting of the ban, which is due to come into force in November. The move marks the end of an incredibly difficult time for businesses on both sides of the pond, not to mention families that have been separated for an extended period of time.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the move and said it was “a fantastic economic and trade boost”.

I am delighted that @POTUS will resume transatlantic travel in November so that fully vaccinated British nationals can visit the United States.

It’s a great boost for business and trade and it’s great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited.

– Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) September 20, 2021

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Negative pressure

Airlines, trade organizations and governments have campaigned for the corridor to be opened. It was hoped that easing the rules for U.S. citizens coming to the UK and the EU earlier this year would stimulate countermeasures by the White House, but measures stalled as cases rose in Europe.

But with the remarkably high vaccination rates in Europe and rising cases in the US, the travel ban has always been pointless. A joint working group has been studying the best way to relax the ban for months, but no conclusions have been drawn yet.

However, with the UN General Assembly in New York for next week, Joe Biden was under increasing pressure to come up with an answer to the question of when. Given the prospect of a bunch of EU leaders coming to New York and all screaming for an end to restrictions, it seems the president has finally taken the plunge.

Just to prove that border bans are based on political motivation rather than data-driven decision-making, the #USA finally agrees to open its borders to fully vaccinated people from November after #EU pressure has built up. The #USA should have opened months ago.

– Paul Charles (@PPaulCharles) September 20, 2021

The new rules

Without specifying a date, the White House has confirmed that visitors from the UK and other banned countries, including Brazil and China, will be welcome to the US from November. However, foreigners must be double vaccinated to enter the country.

Those who are not vaccinated will not be prevented from entering, but will undergo rigorous COVID testing requirements. The US has not yet outlined what these requirements will be.

AA B777Visitors have to be stung twice. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Easy flying

It is not yet clear if vaccinated travelers still need testing, but they likely need to at least participate in contact tracing. The lifting of the US travel ban comes just days after the UK announced major reforms of its own COVID travel restrictions, including replacing the second day PCR test with cheaper lateral flow alternatives.

Industry response

The response from airlines and airports on both sides of the Atlantic has been understandably cheering. Virgin Atlantic, an airline that has built its operating model in the transatlantic market, was one of the first to make a statement. Its CEO Shai Weiss commented:

“The US government’s announcement that fully vaccinated UK visitors will be able to travel to the US from November is a major milestone in the reopening of large-scale travel that will enable consumers and businesses to book US travel with confidence.

“The United States has been our heartland for more than 37 years since our first flight to New York City in 1984. We’re just not Virgin without the Atlantic. After 18 months of uncertainty, we can’t wait to welcome our customers back on board and safely fly them to their favorite US destination. “

The US is ready for the runway 🇺🇸

America will reopen to fully vaccinated UK travelers starting November and we can’t wait to fly you there.

– virginatlantic (@VirginAtlantic) September 20, 2021

Airline friend British Airways was similarly optimistic about the announcement, and Sean Doyle, CEO and Chairman, said:

“Today’s news of our two nations reuniting after more than 18 months apart marks a historic moment and one that will give the global UK a huge boost when it emerges from this pandemic.

“We are very grateful to the Prime Minister and his administration for all of the hard work that has gone into reaching this agreement with the US, building on last Friday’s announcement that many travel restrictions will be lifted. Our customers should now feel that the world is opening up again for them and that they can book their trips with confidence. “

JetStar Asia-Singapore flight connectionsAirlines are eager to get back into the market. Photo: British Airways

Tim Alderslade, CEO of the industry association Airlines UK, also welcomed the move and said:

“The US is one of our most important markets, and the air corridor is worth billions of pounds annually in trade and tourism – and secures thousands of jobs. Things are moving in the right direction and the ministers deserve credit for getting us to this point. “

Are you happy to hear that the US is finally reopening? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.