US citizens will need vaccine or negative test to enter America

Unvaccinated US citizens and permanent residents will need to provide a negative test within a day of travel to enter the country

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Monday 25 October 2021 19:05
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US citizens returning from abroad will still need to provide proof of having received a Covid-19 vaccine if they want to avoid more stringent testing requirements, White House officials said.

On Monday, President Joe Biden is set to sign a presidential proclamation implementing new vaccination and testing requirements for entry into the United States. The new requirements, which will be in force as of 8 November, will require all non-citizen, non-immigrant travelers to the US to be vaccinated against Covid-19 unless they are under 18 or a country that the Centers for Disease Control determines to have low vaccine availability.

But while the new travel protocols will allow unvaccinated US citizens and green card holders to enter the country, they will have to abide by stricter testing rules.

Under the new rules, “fully vaccinated air passengers entering the United States internationally, regardless of citizenship, will continue to be required to show a pre-departure, negative COVID test taken within three days of travel prior to boarding,” a senior White House official explained. “They will be required to show proof of vaccination to qualify for this three-day testing window”.

Although American citizens and lawful permanent residents will not be required to provide proof of vaccination to enter the country, the official said they, as well as anyone else subject to a small number of exemptions from the vaccine requirement, will have to provide a negative test result within one day of boarding their flight to the US.

“A lot of this is derived from what we’ve learned about delta variant and other variants, which can be both more contagious and have a more rapid onset, so that window of time is shortened for those that are unvaccinated…regardless of citizenship,” they said.

Responsibility for verification of travellers’ vaccine status will rest with the airlines carrying them to the US, officials said, with airlines being able to accept digital vaccine certificates that align with US requirements, as well as paper certificates such as CDC vaccination cards.

According to a White House fact sheet, acceptable proof of vaccination will need to match the name and date of birth provided to airlines, be issued by an official source, and detail the vaccine administered, number of doses received, as well as the date and location of administration.

“These are strict safety protocols that follow the science and public health to enhance the safety of Americans here at home, and the safety of international air travel,” the official said. “The best way to slow the spread of Covid-19 and the emergence of new variants is to act quickly to reduce the spread of infection through vaccination, layered with the additional mitigation measures, including … timely and effective case detection through testing, contact tracing, and public health follow up for all international travelers”.

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