US lifts pandemic travel ban, opens doors to visitors

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The United States on Monday lifted restrictions on travel from a long list of countries, including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, allowing tourists to make delayed trips and members of the families to reconnect with loved ones after more than a year and a half due to the pandemic.

As of Monday, the United States is accepting fully vaccinated travelers at airports and land borders, removing a COVID-19 restriction that dates back to the Trump administration. The new rules allow air travel from previously restricted countries as long as the traveler has proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. Overland travel from Mexico and Canada will require proof of vaccination, but no testing.

Airlines are expecting more travelers from Europe and beyond. Data from travel and analytics firm Cirium showed airlines were increasing UK-US flights by 21% this month compared to last month.

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The change will have a profound effect on the borders with Mexico and Canada, where round trips were a way of life until the pandemic struck and the United States halted non-essential travel.

Main Street malls, restaurants and stores in U.S. border towns have been devastated by the lack of visitors from Mexico. On the border with Canada, cross-border hockey rivalries were community traditions until they were shattered by the pandemic. Churches that had members on both sides of the border hope to welcome parishioners they did not see during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Relatives missed vacations, birthdays and funerals when non-essential air travel was banned, and now they are eager to reconnect.

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River Robinson’s U.S. partner couldn’t be in Canada for the birth of their baby boy 17 months ago due to border closures linked to the pandemic. She was delighted to hear that the United States is reopening its land crossings to vaccinated travelers.

“I’m planning to take my baby for American Thanksgiving,” said Robinson, who lives in St. Thomas, Ont. “If all goes well at the border, I plan to shoot him down as much as possible. It’s crazy to think that he has a whole different side of the family that he hasn’t even met yet.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States will accept travelers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those used in states. -United. This means that the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, will be accepted.

For air travelers, airlines are required to check vaccination records and compare them to ID, and if they don’t, they could face fines of up to almost $ 35,000 per violation. Airlines will also collect passenger information for contact tracing efforts. CDC employees will verify US travel compliance on-site. At land borders, customs and border protection officers will check evidence of vaccines.

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The measures come as the United States has seen its COVID-19 outlook improve dramatically in recent weeks since the summer delta surge that pushed hospitals to the brink in many places.

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Rob Gillies of Toronto contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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