Airlines have welcomed the White House’s decision to open up international borders to fully vaccinated foreign travelers.
No specific date has been announced yet, but the borders will open in early November, Jeff Zients the COVID-19 response leader, said on Monday at a press briefing.
The new easing of restrictions applies to 33 countries, including the EU and the UK, plus China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.
This will reignite trans-Atlantic travel, which has been paused since March 2020.
Non-citizens “must show proof vaccination prior to boarding a US-bound plane” and a negative COVID-19 test within three before, Zients said.
“International travel is critical to connecting family and friends, to fueling small and large businesses.”
“That’s why, with science and public health as our guide, we have developed a new international air travel system that both enhances the safety of Americans here at home and enhances the safety of international air travel.”
Quarantine will not be required upon arrival anymore, but airlines will be responsible for collecting certain information about customers for seamless contact tracing.
This will include travellers’ details such as their phone number and email address, in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines.
The news follows only days after the US extended border restrictions with Canada and Mexico due to rising COVID-19 infections, sparking expectations America would not open borders any time soon.
The long-lasting pause on trans-Atlantic travel imposed a major hit to airlines across nations – both being critical to each other’s profits.
The US held a tight rein on UK citizens as the nation suffered mass COVID-19 cases for months, despite Britain easing restrictions on Americans in early August.
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said people globally are “ready to reclaim their lives and reconnect”, and welcomed the White House decision.
“I applaud the administration’s move to lift restrictions ahead of the holiday season so that families can finally come together again,” he added.
Doug Parker, chairman and CEO of American Airlines, said he welcomed the approach backed by science.
“With the shared goals of health and safety always at the forefront, we’re looking forward to welcoming more customers back to easy, seamless international trips for business, for leisure, and to reconnect with family and friends,” he said.
Following the announcement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it would be a “fantastic boost” for local businesses on Twitter.
“Family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again,” he said.
British Airways CEO Sean Doyle said the announcement “marks a historic moment and one which will provide a huge boost to Global Britain as it emerges from this pandemic”.