The US will allow all fully vaccinated people to fly to the US starting in early November, the Biden administration announced on Monday, ending restrictions put in place to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The move will end blanket restrictions on travel from some European countries, China, and Iran. It will also end a required two-week quarantine in effect for many international air travelers to the US. The CDC will determine which vaccine regimens the US will accept as full vaccinations.
"This individual-based approach rather than country-based one is the right system," White House pandemic czar Jeff Zients said at a briefing for reporters on Monday. "International travel is critical to connecting families and friends, to fueling small and large businesses, to promoting the open exchange ideas of culture," he added.
Individuals must show proof of vaccination prior to boarding a US-bound airplane. Nearly 6 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide and many more countries now have stronger vaccination programs, enabling the US to make the change in requirements, Zients said.
The new system will require travelers to show negative test results for COVID-19 within three days of travel. Unvaccinated US citizens traveling from abroad will face stricter testing conditions, needing to test one day prior to departure and test again after their arrival.
Travelers will also need to provide airlines with detailed contact information to allow for contact tracing if they are involved in an outbreak. The policy will also require masking on all flights and fines for refusing to wear masks on planes were doubled last month, Zients noted. He said the airlines would keep the contact tracing data for 30 days or less.
The policy change does not affect land crossings at the Canadian and Mexican borders.