US starts easing Covid travel restrictions

Travel restrictions have been eased by the US for many countries but not the UK as the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines continues.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), updated its criteria on Monday, which saw 61 countries lowered from a Level 4 “avoid all travel” rating.

France, Spain and Italy are among destinations now rated at Level 3, enabling those fully vaccinated to travel.

But most passengers from the UK are still banned from travelling to the US.

Although the UK is listed as Level 3 by the public health agency under a presidential decree introduced at the start of the pandemic last March, non-US citizens who have been in the UK in the last 14 days cannot enter the country unless a specific exemption applies.

At the same time travellers from the US to the UK must self-isolate for ten days on arrival as the country is on the government’s amber list.

However, the White House is setting up working groups with a series of foreign countries, including the UK, to determine how to safely restart international travel, with the issue due to be on the table at the G7 summit in Cornwall this weekend.

The US CDC said that it had updated its criteria to “better differentiate countries with severe outbreak situations from countries with sustained, but controlled, Covid-19 spread.”

The new criteria for a Level 4 “avoid all travel” recommendation has changed from 100 cases per 100,000 to 500 cases per 100,000.

Other countries that saw their ratings lowered include:

  • Ecuador
  • Philippines
  • South Africa
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Russia
  • Switzerland
  • Jordan
  • Denmark
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • Honduras
  • Hungary

Japan also saw its travel rating lowered to allow vaccinated passengers to travel in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics in July.

The US State Department had issued a warning last month against the country, citing a new wave of Covid-19 cases.

The CDC said it also expects more countries to get lower ratings in the coming weeks, the BBC reported.

The move coincided with transatlantic airlines bosses and Heathrow calling for a UK-US travel corridor to be opened ahead of the G7 meeting this weekend in Cornwall.

Adding the US to the green list in the government’s traffic light system for international travel would remove the need for quarantine on return to the UK.

But passengers would still need to have proof of a negative Covid test result on departure.

US Travel Association president and chief executive Roger Dow, responding to the Biden administration’s plans to form working groups to determine the path to reopening international travel with Canada, the European Union, Mexico and the UK, said:“This announcement marks an important step forward in our national recovery from the pandemic.

“US Travel and its membership believe a public-private task force can quickly develop a blueprint to reopen international inbound travel and jump-start a sustained jobs and economic recovery.

“With decreased infection rates in the US combined with the administration’s goal of having a critical mass of Americans fully vaccinated by July 4th, there is a true near-term opportunity to safely begin to welcome back international visitors.

“International travel can be safely restarted by applying a risk-based and science-driven approach, and our hope is that the working groups are able to put a reopening framework in place very quickly.

“The travel industry commends the Biden administration for taking this critical and necessary step on the international front, and we look forward to working with the federal government in every way possible to advance this process.”

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