Biden Administration Lifts COVID Restrictions on International Travelers

( After more than 18 months of COVID restrictions shutting down international travel, on Monday, the US finally reopened its doors to international travelers.

Fully vaccinated travelers will be permitted to enter the United States if they present proof of vaccination as well as a negative COVID-19 taken within three days of travel. The new policy, announced in October, went into effect on November 8. It applies to both air travelers and those traveling on land across the border.

There are still limits, however. Only those who have been vaccinated by approved vaccines can enter the US. Those vaccines include the three authorized for use in the US — Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson – and the four approved for emergency use by the WHO – AstraZeneca, Covaxin, Covishield, BIPB/Sinopharm, and Sinovac.

The vaccination and test requirements will not apply to unvaccinated Americans or children younger than 18. Those two groups are instead required to present a negative COVID test taken within 24-hours of traveling.

The long-awaited decision was good news for Europe, Canada, and Mexico who have been urging the US to reopen its door to foreign travel for months.

President Trump imposed travel restrictions in March 2020 in response to spiking COVID rates throughout Europe. Europe lifted its restrictions on US travelers during the summer, prompting European lawmakers and business groups to pressure the Biden White House to lift the US travel ban in return.

During a White House visit in July, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had urged the administration to lift its COVID-related travel ban on European nations. At the time, President Biden had said he would make the decision in the next several days. Three weeks later, the White House decided it would keep the travel ban in place.

Monday at London’s Heathrow, airport employees welcomed travelers to the airport by waving American flags, while Virgin Atlantic had performers dressed in red, white and blue welcoming passengers boarding flights at Heathrow.

Travelers coming to the US from Mexico and Canada wasted no time crowding the border crossings eager to enter the US (legally) for the first time in a year and a half.

The news was a welcome relief to those who have not seen their American families in over 18 months.