United States opens its borders to foreigners, but only the vaccinated

New rules come into force on November 8.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

After more than a year and a half, the United States has decided to lift its ban on foreigner national air travellers coming to the country.

Starting on November 8, every foreigner fully vaccinated against Covid will be able to travel to the country. This includes visitors from the European Union, the United Kingdom, China, Iran, South Africa, Brazil and India, by showing a confirmation of vaccination.

What conditions will be applied?

The country will accept vaccines recognised by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organisation (WHO). This includes vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm and Sinovac. The White House has said that a combination of vaccines will be accepted as well, if they are approved by the FDA or WHO.

At least 14 days must pass from receiving the final dose. Also, people who recovered from Covid need to be vaccinated before travelling unless they do not have an exception, as said Slovakia’s State Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Martin Klus.

Incomers will be obliged to report their vaccination status to the respective airline before boarding US-bound flights, the Reuters newswire reported.

Airlines are also required to collect information from international air passengers like phone numbers, email and US addresses, and retain it for 30 days in case of need “to follow up on travellers who have been exposed to Covid-19 variants or other pathogens,” as reported by Reuters.

There will be only a few exemptions from the rule:

  • children under 18;
  • people with some medical issues preventing them from getting the vaccine;
  • non-tourist travellers from nearly 50 countries with nationwide vaccination rates of less than 10 percent – those receiving an exemption will generally need to be vaccinated within 60 days after arriving to the US.

The exemptions will have to be approved by a respective US Embassy or the US Department of Homeland Security.

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In addition to the proof of vaccination, international air travellers older than 2 years of age will need to provide a negative Covid-19 test (PCR or antigen) no older than 72 days before the departure. Those not vaccinated against Covid who receive an exemption need to provide a negative Covid-19 test no older than 24 hours.

Those who recovered from Covid can travel with documentation on recovery from Covid-19 (i.e. a positive Covid-19 test of a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure of a foreign country and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel), according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Warning against travel to Slovakia

Meanwhile, the CDC recommended on November 1 that travellers should avoid travel to Russia, Belgium and Slovakia due to “very high” Covid-19 cases, Reuters reported.

The CDC raised the ratings for these countries from Level 3 to Level 4.

“Avoid travel to Slovakia,” the CDC wrote on its website. “If you must travel to Slovakia, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.”

The CDC also recommended those coming to Slovakia to adhere to valid epidemic measures, including rules for wearing masks and social distancing.

Currently, there are about 80 countries and territories at Level 4. Out of Slovakia’s neighbours, only Austria and Ukraine are currently at Level 4. Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic are at Level 3, the TASR newswire reported.

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