The U.S. government recently released details outlining how it will reopen borders to international visitors from 33 countries. The new policy will take effect when the current restrictions are lifted on November 8.
Notably, instead of an outright ban, the new system will require travelers who are not citizens or immigrants to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their vaccination status before they board an airplane bound for the U.S. They also must provide proof of a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test.
There is one important exemption. Children under 18 must show proof of a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test, but they are exempt from the vaccine requirement. Federal officials explained that the exemption for children was made because many are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine while others do not have access to the vaccine.
Beginning November 8, non-citizen, non-immigrant air travelers over the age of 18 must be fully vaccinated and able to provide proof of vaccination to board a plane bound for the U.S.
Acceptable vaccines are those that are FDA approved or authorized and World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use listed vaccines. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated if it has been more than 2 weeks since they received a single-dose vaccine or since they received the second dose of a two-dose vaccine.
Passengers must be able to provide proof of vaccination, and airline personnel will confirm the passenger is the same person reflected on the proof of vaccination. They also will verify that the proof of vaccination was issued by an official source in the country where the vaccine was given – such as a public health organization or government agency.
Beginning November 8, regardless of citizenship, all fully vaccinated air passengers traveling to the U.S. must provide proof of a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test taken no more than 3 days before their flight departs. Both nucleic acid amplification tests, such as a PCR test, and antigen tests qualify.
Importantly, U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who are not fully vaccinated must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 1 day of departure for the U.S.
Children between the ages of 2 and 17 are also required to provide proof of a negative pre-departure test. If they are traveling with a fully vaccinated adult, an unvaccinated child can take the test up to three days prior to departure. If an unvaccinated child is traveling alone or is traveling with unvaccinated adults, they will need to take the test within 1 day of departure.
The CDC has also issued a contact tracing order.
“All air passengers to the United States will also be required to provide basic contact information to airlines before boarding flights to the United States,” the CDC explained. “This will allow airlines to better coordinate with public health agencies to share information when needed to keep the public safe and informed, and strengthen their ability to rapidly identify and contact people in the U.S. who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, such as COVID-19.”
Exemptions to the new policy are limited to a few sets of conditions. For example, some people participating in a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial and people with medical contraindications to COVID-19 vaccines are exempt from the vaccine requirement — but not the pre-departure testing requirement.