In news that has thousands of travelers heaving a sigh of relief, the Joe Biden administration has announced that it will remove travel restrictions that have been imposed ever since the pandemic sent most of the world into a lockdown. The current rule bans most visitors from Brazil, China, South Africa, the U.K., 26 Schengen countries in Europe, Ireland, India and Iran.
Here are some key takeaways from the announcement:
a) The lifting of the ban will be effective November 8th, 2021. Passengers who are travelling need to be fully vaccinated and carry their vaccination certificates. Unvaccinated travelers need to take a test a day before departure and produce that certificate if they want to travel.
b) Individuals are considered fully vaccinated if they have received an FDA or WHO authorized vaccine. In this regard, it's important to note that after months of back and forth, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. has approved Covaxin, the vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech. It is now on the list of Covid-19 vaccines that qualify for approval. But there is a rider - the CDC website asks for 'Documentation you participated in a phase 3 trial of with a qualifying COVID-19 vaccine candidate'.
It isn't clear whether this exemption applies to everyone who has received both doses of Covaxin, or it applies only to those who participated in the Phase-3 trials. Along with this, it is also unclear if the eligibility extends to those who received Covaxin after it was granted restricted emergency use authorization (EUA) under the clinical trial mode while its Phase-3 trials were underway.
c) Children under 18 are exempted from showing a vaccine certificate and need to show a pre-departure Covid test. If travelling with fully vaccinated adults, an unvaccinated child should take a test 3 days before departure. If an unvaccinated child is travelling with unvaccinated adults, they need to take a test one day before their travel.
d) There are a few categories of persons exempted from the vaccination requirement:
- Children under 18
- Certain Covid 19 vaccine trial participants
- People who need to travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons. This requires a U.S. Government issued letter that states the need for travel.
- People who are travelling on non-tourist visas from countries with low vaccine availability. The Center for Disease Control determines this.
If you are wondering what you need to pack, you can read our piece on it here.
If you want to know how to check for Visa updates, read our piece here.
Bon voyage and safe travels!
Important update: All travelers need to get tested one day prior to their departure even if they have got both doses of the vaccine. This is a departure from the previous rule where passengers who had got both doses of the vaccine could get tested 3 days prior to their departure.