On Monday, September 20, 2021, major media outlets reported that the United States will lift its COVID-19 travel bans in early November for fully vaccinated foreign nationals. White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients held a call with reporters Monday morning to preview a new international air travel system that will include proof of vaccination and contact-tracing procedures coordinated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The U.S. currently restricts nonessential travel from 33 countries—China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, India, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and all regions within the Schengen region of the European Union. The Executive Orders implementing these travel bans are expected to be revoked or modified by early November. The full policy has not yet been released, but will include (1) a requirement that adults be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, (2) a requirement that all travelers test negative for COVID-19 within three days preceding travel, and (3) a requirement that all international travelers provide contact information to enable the CDC and local health authorities to perform contact tracing. The CDC is also expected to announce a list of acceptable vaccines prior to the effective date of the new policy. This is an important consideration, as millions of individuals around the world have received vaccines that the U.S. has not yet approved nor found to be safe and effective.
Until the new travel rules are announced and effective, international travelers who were present in one of the 33 countries subject to a ban within the 14 days preceding their travel must qualify for an exemption or exemption in order to board a U.S.-bound flight. T&S is closely monitoring this development and will provide updates as more information is available.