The United States is to lift the ban on foreign travellers, including those from the
UK and European Union, from early November and will require all arriving foreign nationals to be fully vaccinated, according to an announcement by White House Covid co-ordinator Jeff Zients.
Zients said that all foreign travellers arriving in the US would need to show proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as proof of a negative Covid test taken less than three days before travelling.
The ban on all travellers from the UK and EU entering the UK
came into force on 16 March 2020. The ban was extended by Joe Biden on 25
January this year, shortly after he ousted Donald Trump as US President.
The announcement has been met with delight from the business
Crawley, American Express GBT’s chief commercial officer, said: “After more than 550 days of
shut borders, we are thrilled that the US will finally be reopening to fully
vaccinated travellers from the UK and EU. There is huge pent-up demand for
transatlantic travel among our customers and we fully expect to see a sustained
spike in bookings. It is a positive step forward for global economic
recovery and we await further details from the White House.
Sean Doyle, British Airways' CEO and chairman said, "Today's news, which will see our two nations reunited after more than 18 months apart, marks an historic moment and one which will provide a huge boost to Global Britain as it emerges from this pandemic. We are immensely grateful to the Prime Minister and his Government for all the hard work that's gone into securing this deal with the US, and which builds upon last Friday's announcement on the lifting of many travel restrictions. Our customers should now feel that the world is re-opening to them and they can book their trips with confidence."
Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic said: “The US Government’s announcement that fully vaccinated UK visitors will be able to enter the US from November is a major milestone to the reopening of travel at scale, allowing consumers and businesses to book travel to the US with confidence.
“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 the UK Government, the Biden administration and our industry partners for their collaboration.
“The US has been our heartland for more than 37 years since our first flight to New York City in 1984. We are simply not Virgin without the Atlantic. After 18 months of uncertainty, we cannot wait to welcome our customers back onboard, flying them safety to their favourite US destination.”
Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, said, “The re-opening of international travel between the UK and the US is long overdue. Today’s reported announcement from President Biden gives the whole travel industry light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
"We have been calling for this for many months. Waiting until November harms businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. Once travel between the two countries resumes, it must be on a permanent basis.”
Abby Penston, CEO of Focus Travel Partnership said: “Last week’s easing of travel restrictions and scrapping the traffic light system was welcome news, but for our 50 travel management companies, it pales compared to the lifting of the USA travel ban. This move will breathe life back into a sector on its knees - 30 per cent of the current Focus Travel Partnership turnover came from flight tickets to the USA in 2019. We know we are not yet out of the woods yet, but this is a bright light at the end of a very dark tunnel – and is a sight for sore eyes.”
Fred Stratford, CEO of Reed & Mackay, said, “The London – New York route has historically been one of the hottest for business travel and the opening of the United States to UK and EU citizens has been much anticipated by our professional services client base. We’ve seen week on week growth in excess of 20 per cent throughout September and fully expect this latest news to further fuel corporate travel volumes for the region, particularly as businesses move to take advantage of the opportunity to meet face to face with their clients."
Julia Simpson, World Travel and Tourism Council president & CEO, said: “The prospect of the US lifting travel restrictions to restore transatlantic travel between the UK and US is welcome news - not just for hard-pressed airlines but for the wider travel and tourism sector, which has been decimated by Covid-19.
“The UK alone represents 8 per cent of all inbound travel to the US, accounting for US$40 million per day to the nation’s economy.
“WTTC strongly advocates for fully vaccinated travellers to be able to travel freely and safely, and for unvaccinated travellers to be able to do so with testing, alongside enhanced health and safety protocols.”
Speaking at the Business Travel Association's conference in
Liverpool today, agiito chief executive James Parkhouse said, “It’s the single most important change to
breathe life back into international travel”.
UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said in the House of Commons that the change would come into effect "in early November". Shapps alsotweeted that the change was the result of a "brilliant collaboration through our UK/US working group", and tagged in the US President, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Shapps' US counterpart, the secretary of transportation Pete Buttegieg.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the move "a fantastic boost for business and trade".