(Representative Image: Reuters)
The travel ban imposed due to the onset of COVID-19 impact would be lifted for all vaccinated passengers from early November, the United States announced on September 20. Apart from being fully vaccinated, the arriving passengers would be required to undergo testing and contact tracing, officials said.
This essentially also lifts the travel ban on countries like India that the US had earlier enforced. Former president Donald Trump had imposed a blanket ban on foreign travellers from entering the US at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.
Vaccinated people from countries like India can now travel to the US with proof of their vaccination before they start flying for the United States, White House officials said.
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Jeffrey Zients, coronavirus response coordinator for President Joe Biden, told reporters the new "consistent approach" would take effect in "early November," reported AFP.
The United States, he said, with science and public health as its guide, has 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.
"Most importantly, beginning in early November, foreign nationals flying to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and they must show proof of vaccination prior to boarding a US bound airplane," he said.
Currently, the United States bars the regular entry of non-US citizens who, in the preceding 14-day period, were in the UK, the European Union countries without border controls, South Africa, Iran, Ireland, China, India and Brazil.
Zients said fully vaccinated travellers, as per the new policy, will need to complete pre-departure testing within three days prior to departure to the US and show proof of a negative test before boarding the flight.
Furthermore, any unvaccinated Americans returning to the US are subject to stricter testing requirements. They will need to test within one day of departure, and will be required to test again, post their arrival, he added.
In the coming weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be issuing a contact tracing order requiring airlines to collect current information from each US bound traveller, including their phone number and email address.
The data will enable CDC, along with provincial and local health officials to follow up with inbound travellers, and those around them to check whether anyone has been potentially exposed to COVID-19 or other pathogens.
"Importantly, this enhanced contact tracing system will do more than help us fight this virus. It will also strengthen our public health surveillance system against any future public health threats," said the White House official.With PTI inputs