U.S. to Welcome Vaccinated Travelers on Nov. 8
The United States will welcome international travelers — who have been vaccinated — back to the country on Nov. 8.
First reported by Reuters on Friday, the news of the set date was later confirmed by White House communications on Twitter.
"The US' new travel policy that requires vaccination for foreign national travelers to the United States will begin on Nov 8," White House Assistant Press Secretary Kevin Munoz shared on social media. "This announcement and date applies to both international air travel and land travel. This policy is guided by public health, stringent, and consistent."
The U.S. will accept half a dozen COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by the World Health Organization when the country lifts travel restrictions on vaccinated foreign visitors in November.
While only three vaccines have been approved for use in the U.S. (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Reuters earlier this month that "Six vaccines that are FDA authorized/approved or listed for emergency use by WHO will meet the criteria for travel to the U.S."
As of June, the WHO has approved the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, the Sinopharm vaccine, and the Sinovac vaccine in addition to the ones used in the U.S., determining they have "met the necessary criteria for safety and efficacy."
The U.S. first said on Sept. 20 it would welcome international visitors again, requiring them to be fully vaccinated and show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of boarding a flight to the U.S., Jeff Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator, has said, according to The New York Times.
"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," Zients said at the time.
Unvaccinated American travelers will still be allowed to fly back, but with more stringent testing protocols, including a requirement to get tested within one day of their departure and show proof they have purchased a viral test to be taken after arriving, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters during a briefing last month. This would apply to children as well.
The CDC is also expected to require airlines to collect contact information like phone numbers and emails for contact tracing purposes.
The trade group Airlines for America told Reuters it was "pleased by the CDC's decision to approve a list of authorized vaccinations for travelers entering the U.S. We look forward to working with the administration to implement this new global vaccine and testing framework by early November 2021."
The CDC told the wire service it would "release additional guidance and information" when guidelines are finalized.
The plan to welcome foreign travelers has been in the works for months. Currently, the U.S. restricts non-essential travel for non-U.S. citizens from several destinations around the world, including the UK and EU.
In the past, the Biden administration has cited the spread of the highly contagious delta variant as a reason the country had not yet lifted international restrictions.
However, several countries have welcomed vaccinated Americans in recent months, including the UK, France, and Greece. And while the EU removed the U.S. from its pandemic-era list of safe countries in August, individual member states can still set their own rules around testing or vaccination requirements.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.