The United States has announced that it will update its international travel policy, requiring that most incoming foreigners be vaccinated, the State Department said.
The new policy will take effect Nov. 8 and will apply to any foreigner who comes to the United States for non-essential reasons, such as tourism.
Under the regulations, foreign travelers wishing to enter the United States will be required to show proof of vaccination status before embarking on a flight to the United States.
Airlines will need to verify the vaccination status. Digital and paper vaccination cards, such as those provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, should be acceptable.
The only vaccines that will be accepted are those approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization, according to a senior administration official.
“This policy prioritizes public health, protecting U.S. citizens and residents, as well as those who come to visit them,” the State Department said in a statement.
In addition, all passengers must present a negative test before boarding their flight. Vaccinated people can take the test up to 72 hours before departure. Unvaccinated individuals (U.S. citizens or foreigners who receive a special permit to enter) will be asked to take the test within 24 hours of their flight.
Children under the age of two will not be required to take the test.
There will also be accommodation for anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus within three months of the trip and can show documentation to that effect.
Finally, those traveling to the U.S. will need to provide basic and valid contact information to airlines that public health agencies can use as needed in the event of an outbreak.
A series of documents will be released that will help airlines prepare for Nov. 8 and ensure a smooth transition to the new system, the senior administration official said.
“These are strict safety protocols that science and public health follow to improve the safety of Americans here at home and the safety of international air travel,” the official said. “We are talking about an important step forward in the operation of this new system with regard to international air travel.”
There will be limited exceptions to the vaccination requirement for non-citizens who are not immigrants, the official said. These will include children under 18 and people from countries that do not have accessible vaccines and therefore less than 10% of the population is inoculated according to the WHO.
“Even in countries with low vaccine availability, people will also have to have a compelling reason to come here,” the official said. “So it’s not that they come here for any reason; they must have a specific and compelling reason. Therefore, tourist visas will not be eligible for this. ”
The list of qualified countries from which people can travel without being vaccinated due to lack of availability should be updated approximately quarterly by the WHO. There are currently about 50 countries.
There will also be exemptions for people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, the official said, without providing additional details.
A similar protocol will soon be applied to land borders as well, the official added.