The United States announced on Monday it will lift Covid travel bans on all passengers in November if they are fully vaccinated and undergo testing and contact tracing.
Jeffrey Zients, coronavirus response coordinator for President Joe Biden, told reporters the new “consistent approach” would take effect in “early November”.
The easing of travel restrictions, imposed 18 months ago by Donald Trump as the Covid-19 pandemic first erupted, marks a significant shift by Biden and answers a major demand from European allies at a time of strained diplomatic relations.
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Effectively the change means vaccinated travellers from Europe will be able to once again visit the US.
US nationals living in Europe and their close family members had been able to travel home across the Atlantic despite the ban but the strict rules had caused misery for many.
The announcement was greeted warmly in Europe.
German vice-chancellor Olaf Scholz tweeted: “Great news – for German and European investments, our exports and transatlantic relations” while the Air France chief described it as “great news”.
European countries have long since opened their borders to vaccinated American tourists, but despite diplomatic pressure in recent months the government in Washington had refused to reciprocate the move until now.
At the end of August the EU removed the US from its travel safe list. Following this move several European countries banned unvaccinated travellers from the US.