WASHINGTON • The White House will lift Covid-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated international visitors on Nov 8, adding that it will accept international travellers who have taken mixed-dose coronavirus vaccines.
The unprecedented travel restrictions kept millions of visitors out of the United States, shrinking US tourism and hurting border economies. They prevented many loved ones and foreign workers from reuniting with families.
Starting on Nov 8, the US will admit fully vaccinated foreign air travellers from the 26 so-called Schengen countries in Europe, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain, as well as Britain, China, India, South Africa and Brazil.
Non-US air travellers will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding a flight, and must show proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test. Foreign visitors crossing a land border will not need a recent negative test.
US allies had heavily lobbied President Joe Biden's administration to lift the rules. Many praised Friday's announcement - including Sweden's ambassador to the US, Ms Karin Olofsdotter, who called it "very welcoming news".
White House spokesman Kevin Munoz confirmed the Nov 8 date on Twitter, adding that the policy "is guided by public health, stringent, and consistent".
Restrictions on non-US citizens were first imposed on air travellers from China in January last year by then President Donald Trump and extended to dozens of other countries, without any clear metrics for how and when to lift them.
Curbs on non-essential travellers at land borders with Mexico and Canada have been in place since March last year to address the Covid-19 pandemic.
US international air passenger traffic was down 43 per cent in August and overall passenger air traffic was down 21 per cent from pre-pandemic levels, the US Transportation Department said on Friday.
Airlines have seen an increase in international ticket sales in recent weeks, after the White House announced plans to lift the restrictions, said Mr Nick Calio, chief executive of the Airlines for America industry trade group.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said late on Friday that it will accept international travellers who have taken mixed-dose coronavirus vaccines.
"While CDC has not recommended mixing types of vaccine in a primary series, we recognise that this is increasingly common in other countries and so should be accepted for the interpretation of vaccine records," said a spokesman.
The CDC said "individuals who have any combination of two doses of an FDA-approved or WHO emergency use-listed Covid-19 two-dose series are considered fully vaccinated", referring to the US Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organisation.