US border reopening confirmed for November 8

The US is to reopen its border to fully-vaccinated travellers from the UK from November 8.

White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz said on Twitter: “The US’ new travel policy that requires vaccination for foreign national travelers to the United States will begin on Nov 8. This announcement and date applies to both international air travel and land travel. This policy is guided by public health, stringent, and consistent.”

The White House had previously indicated its plans to reopen from “early November”, but had since gone quiet on a specific date, leading to concerns the move could be pushed back.

Speculation mounted in recent days that the reopening could be on track after all, with WTTC chief executive Julia Simpson telling Abta’s Travel Convention on Wednesday she had heard the possibility of an easing on November 5, 6 or 7, and the Daily Telegraph reporting on Friday morning that November 8 was now the favoured date.

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss welcomed the news. He said: “The US government’s confirmation that fully vaccinated UK visitors will be able to enter the US from 8 November is welcome news and finally allows consumers and businesses to book travel with confidence.”

He added: “As the UK forges its recovery from the pandemic, the reopening of the transatlantic corridor and the lifting of Presidential Order 212F acknowledges the great progress both nations have made in rolling out successful vaccine programmes.

“The UK will now be able to strengthen ties with our most important economic partner, the US, boosting trade and tourism as well as reuniting friends, families and business colleagues.

“We are thankful to prime minister Johnson and the UK government, the Biden administration and our industry partners for their support in removing these barriers and allowing free travel between our countries to resume.”

Sean Doyle, British Airways chief executive, said: “Nearly 600 days since the introduction of the US travel ban, this is a pivotal moment for the entire travel industry and finally provides the certainty we have so desperately needed.

“We can’t wait to welcome our customers back on board and reconnect friends and families across the Atlantic, rebuild US-UK business relationships and reclaim Britain’s position as a leader on the global stage.”

An Abta spokesperson said: “The decision to allow double vaccinated travellers to travel to the US from the UK from 8 November is great news for holidaymakers, business travellers and those who have been separated from friends and family for so long. It also sends a strong message that long haul travel is open for business so should help to boost consumer confidence in travel more broadly.

“The USA is one of our most popular long-haul destination and in a normal year attracts almost five million visitors from the UK.”

Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, said: “Today’s confirmation that US borders will re-open to fully vaccinated travellers on 8th November is excellent news for British business. With over £200 billion in annual trade between our two countries, the US has been an integral part of so many UK business travel itineraries.

“The restart of this vital corridor will pay huge dividends for both economies, and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic, and is another important step on the road to recovery for the business travel sector. We now urge both governments to work together to simplify the testing procedures currently required for UK-US travel, to ensure it is as frictionless as possible.”

Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said: “The reopening of the US to fully vaccinated travellers is another important step towards normalising travel again. While testing requirements remain in place, we look forward to welcoming more US-bound passengers at UK airports.

“Ultimately, fully vaccinated passengers should be able to travel without further tests or other requirements. We call on the UK and US Governments to work together to achieve this as soon as possible to help boost aviation’s recovery.

“In the meantime, the UK Government should follow the US’s example and provide significant financial support to airports to boost their financial recovery and help them build back better.”

Barrhead Travel president Jacqueline Dobson said: “Today’s announcement – paired with yesterday’s confirmation of Day 2 lateral flow tests – is music to the travel industry’s ears. The US market is paramount to our recovery – particularly during the winter period where destinations like New York attract Christmas shoppers while Miami attracts sun-seekers.

“We fully expect this announcement to have a powerful impact on our pre-Christmas recovery and look forward to connecting people with the US once more – whether that’s for well-earned getaways or emotional family reunions.”

Barrhead reported a “marked surge” in November and December enquiries and bookings with New York, Orlando, Miami and Las Vegas among its top destinations.

Lisa McAuley, managing director of US specialist operator Gold Medal reported an “immediate positive reaction” to the news – and said calls jumped up by a factor of six.

“Our team has been very busy responding to agent enquiries ever since,” she said. “Coming so soon after the announcement about PCR test requirements, it feels a bit like all our Christmases have come at once.

“This last 18 months has been such a slog, but we can finally look forward now and rebuild in earnest.”

US Travel Association chief executive Roger Dow said: “US Travel has long called for the safe reopening of our borders, and we welcome the Biden administration’s announcement of a set date to welcome back vaccinated international travellers.

“The date is critically important for planning – for airlines, for travel-supported businesses, and for millions of travellers worldwide who will now advance plans to visit the United States once again. Reopening to international visitors will provide a jolt to the economy and accelerate the return of travel-related jobs that were lost due to travel restrictions.

“We applaud the administration for recognising the value of international travel to our economy and our country, and for working to safely reopen our borders and reconnect America to the world.”

Julia Simpson, WTTC chief executive, said: “It is great news that the US will reopen its borders to fully-vaccinated travellers from the UK and EU from November 8. It has been a long time coming, but travel & tourism businesses on both sides of the Atlantic will be breathing a sigh of relief.

“Visitors from the EU and the UK contributed more than $46 billion to the U.S economy in 2019, showing just how critical this move will be to the US recovery. WTTC believe governments should axe red lists completely, and instead base the risk on individuals rather than entire countries.”

Andrew Crawley, American Express Global Business Travel’s chief commercial officer, said: “For the last 19 months, we’ve seen that a world without travel is less prosperous and less tolerant. The safe reopening of US borders to international travellers will reconnect cultures and economies, driving growth for businesses of all sectors and sizes.”

Liz Mathews, general manager of Flight Centre UK, said the announcement was “a welcome milestone in the bounce-back of the global travel industry”.

“With the vast majority of the world now open to UK travellers and just a few destinations off-limits, consumers are now increasingly confident in booking international travel,” she said.

Pre-Covid, 15% of Flight Centre’s annual bookings were to the US. Mathews said: “To Brits, the US represents so much more than our largest economic ally; and now our customers can put concrete plans in place to see family, reunite with loved ones and explore the country once again.”

Jason Oshiokpekhai, managing director of Internova brand Global Travel Collection, said: “This is a critical travel route for each division of our business – corporate, entertainment and leisure – not to mention what it will mean for families and friends who can finally reunite.

“While the announcement comes too late for many, it is a move that will accelerate our course of recovery and gives wind to the progress we are eventually making as an industry.

“We can now begin to recover from the economic suppression this has held with rewarding business projects now able to complete which will benefit businesses, industries, jobs and the economy on each side of the pond.”

He reiterated calls for an aligned global travel strategy among the G7.

Delta chief executive Ed Bastian said: “I applaud the administration’s decision to welcome foreign nationals back to the United States.

“International air travel is essential to global economic recovery and the United States’ tourism industry. Delta people are excited to play our part in reuniting families for the holidays and reconnecting the world after more than 19 months apart.”

Delta chief executive Ed Bastian said: “I applaud the administration’s decision to welcome foreign nationals back to the United States.

“International air travel is essential to global economic recovery and the United States’ tourism industry. Delta people are excited to play our part in reuniting families for the holidays and reconnecting the world after more than 19 months apart.”

United reported transatlantic bookings for “November and beyond” exceeded 2019 levels for the first time since the pandemic started in the days following the announcement.

“We’re ready and eager to welcome international customers back,” a spokesperson said.

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