We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

international travel

Children under 18 won't be required to be fully vaccinated to enter US

They will still need to take a Covid-19 test unless they are two or younger.

2.63320943 PA PA

CHILDREN UNDER 18 and people from dozens of countries with a shortage of vaccines will be exempt from new rules that will require most travellers to the United States to be vaccinated against Covid-19, the Biden administration has announced.

The government said it will require airlines to collect contact information on passengers regardless of whether they have been vaccinated to help with contact tracing, if that becomes necessary.

Beginning on 8 November, foreign, non-immigrant adults travelling to the United States will need to be fully vaccinated, with only limited exceptions, and all travellers will need to be tested for the virus before boarding a plane to the US.

There will be tightened restrictions for American and foreign citizens who are not fully vaccinated.

Children under 18 will not be required to be fully vaccinated because of delays in making them eligible for vaccines in many places.

They will still need to take a Covid-19 test unless they are two or younger.

Others who will be exempt from the vaccination requirement include people who participated in Covid-19 clinical trials, who had severe allergic reactions to the vaccines, or are from a country where shots are not widely available.

That latter category will cover people from countries with vaccination rates below 10% of adults.

They may be admitted to the US with a government letter authorising travel for a compelling reason and not just for tourism, a senior administration official said.

The new policy comes as the Biden administration moves away from restrictions that ban non-essential travel from several dozen countries – most of Europe, China, Brazil, South Africa, India and Iran – and instead focuses on classifying individuals by the risk they pose to others.

It also reflects the White House’s embrace of vaccination requirements as a tool to push more Americans to get the shots by making it inconvenient to remain unvaccinated.

Under the policy, those who are vaccinated will need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test within three days of travel, while the unvaccinated must present a test taken within one day of travel.

The US will accept any vaccine approved for regular or emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organisation.

That includes Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines.

Mixing and matching of approved shots will be permitted.

2.63042291 A US Customs and Border Protection officer working at the Point Roberts-Boundary Bay border crossing in Washington. Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press via AP Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press via AP / The Canadian Press via AP

The Biden administration has been working with airlines, who will be required to enforce the new procedures.

Airlines will be required to verify vaccine records and match them against identity information.

Quarantine officers from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention will spot-check passengers who arrive in the US for compliance, according to an administration official.

Airlines that do not enforce the requirements could be subject to penalties of up to nearly $35,000 per violation.

The new rules will replace restrictions that began in January 2020, when then-president Donald Trump banned most non-US citizens coming from China.

The Trump administration expanded that to cover Brazil, Iran, the United Kingdom, Ireland and most of continental Europe.

President Joe Biden left those bans in place and expanded them to South Africa and India.

Biden came under pressure from European allies to drop the restrictions, particularly after many European countries eased limits on American visitors.

“The United States is open for business with all the promise and potential America has to offer,” commerce secretary Gina Raimondo said after the announcement.

The main trade group for the US airline industry praised the administration’s decision.

“We have seen an increase in ticket sales for international travel over the past weeks, and are eager to begin safely reuniting the countless families, friends and colleagues who have not seen each other in nearly two years, if not longer,” Airlines for America said in a statement.

The pandemic and resulting travel restrictions have caused international travel to plunge.

US and foreign airlines plan to operate about 14,000 flights across the Atlantic this month, just over half the 29,000 flights they operated during October 2019, according to data from aviation research firm Cirium.

Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst in San Francisco, said the lifting of country-specific restrictions will help, but it will be tempered by the vaccination and testing requirements.

“Anyone hoping for an explosion of international inbound visitors will be disappointed,” he said.

“November 8 will be the start of the international travel recovery in the US, but I don’t believe we (will) see full recovery until 2023 at the earliest.”

The Biden administration has not proposed a vaccination requirement for domestic travel, which the airlines oppose fiercely, saying it would be impractical because of the large number of passengers who fly within the US every day.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said in September that the change is “something that we, along with our EU colleagues, have been advocating for a considerable time”. 

“Ensuring ease of travel is vital for protecting our strong connections across the Atlantic, be that in business, academia, tourism or family connections,” a statement from Coveney said. 

“With 90% of Irish adults now fully vaccinated, I know this will come as very good news for many in Ireland, the Irish living in the United States, as well as our American friends with links to Ireland and the rest of Europe.”

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel