Monday, November 29, 2021

US lifts pandemic travel ban, opens doors for visitors

The US on Monday lifted travel restrictions from a long list of countries including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, allowing tourists to take long-haul trips and allowing family members to reconnect with loved ones after more than a year and a half. Permission granted. global pandemic.

Starting Monday, the US is accepting fully vaccinated travelers at airports and land borders, easing a COVID-19 ban that dates back to the Trump administration. The new rules allow air travel from countries previously restricted, as long as the traveler has proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. Land travel from Mexico and Canada will require proof of vaccination but no tests.

Airlines are expecting more passengers from Europe and elsewhere. Data from travel and analytics firm Cirium shows airlines are increasing flights between the United Kingdom and the US by 21% this month compared to last month.

The change would have a profound impact on borders with Mexico and Canada, where back and forth travel was a way of life until the pandemic struck and the US closed non-essential travel.

Malls, restaurants and Main Street shops in US border towns have been devastated by a lack of visitors to Mexico. On the border with Canada, cross-border hockey rivalries were community traditions until overshadowed by the pandemic. Churches that had members on either side of the border are expected to welcome parishioners they did not see during the COVID-19 shutdown.

loved ones have missed holidays, birthdays and funerals While non-essential air travel was banned, and they are now eager to rejoin.

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Rivers Robinson’s American partner was not able to attend the birth of her child 17 months ago due to pandemic-related border closures in Canada. She was thrilled to hear that the US was reopening its land crossings to vaccinated travelers.

“I plan to take my baby downstairs for American Thanksgiving,” said Robinson, who lives in St. Thomas, Ontario. “If everything goes smoothly at the border then I will plan to take it down as much as I can. It’s crazy to think he has another side of the family that he hasn’t met yet. “

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US will accept travelers who have been fully vaccinated with any vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those in US means That the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, would be accepted.

For air travelers, airlines are required to verify vaccine records And match them with ID, and if they don’t, they could face fines of up to about $35,000 per violation. Airlines will also collect information about passengers for contact tracing efforts. CDC workers will spot-check travelers for compliance in the U.S. At land borders, Customs and Border Protection agents will check evidence of the vaccine.

The move comes as the US has seen a dramatic improvement in its COVID-19 outlook in recent weeks as a summer delta surge pushed hospitals to the brink in many places.

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Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

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