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US to lift Covid travel ban for vaccinated passengers from UK and most of EU

Photograph: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images The US will lift Covid-19 travel restrictions to allow fully vaccinated passengers from the UK and most European Union (EU) countries to travel into the country from early November, the White House has announced.

The move signals the end of a travel ban imposed by Donald Trump more than 18 months ago in the early stages of the pandemic, and comes after intense lobbying from Brussels and London.

In addition to the UK and the 26 Schengen countries in Europe, the easing of restrictions will also apply to Ireland, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa and India.

It was welcomed by Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, who tweeted: “It’s a fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again.”

Under current policy, only US citizens, their immediate families, green card holders and those with national interest exemptions (NIE) can travel into the US if they have been in the UK or EU in the previous two weeks.

The White House coronavirus response coordinator, Jeff Zients, said on Monday international travellers will require proof of full vaccination before boarding a flight and a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure. They will not be required to quarantine upon arrival.

There will be some exceptions to the vaccine policy including for children not yet eligible to be vaccinated. The new rules do not yet apply to travellers crossing land borders with Mexico and Canada.

“This new international travel system follows the science to keep Americans and international air travel safe,” Zients told reporters. “By requiring foreign nationals to be fully vaccinated in order to fly to the United States and in implementing additional strict safety protocols, we will protect Americans here at home and enhance the safety of international travel.”

“This is based on individuals rather than a country-based approach.”

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