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The US issues updated guidance for international travelers

In light of the spread of Covid-19’s Omicron variant across the world, the US has decided to impose testing requirements for all international travellers. This follows moves by several other countries, including India that has mandated additional travel restrictions for passengers coming in from ‘at-risk’ countries. The updated regulations says, international visitors arriving at a U.S. port of entry by land or water should be prepared to, present proof of COVID-19 vaccination as outlined on the CDC website; and verbally attest to their nonessential travel and COVID-19 vaccination status.

It also said that, prior to boarding an airplane to the United States, international visitors should prepare for, proof of full vaccination prior to boarding a flight to the United States is now required. Accepted vaccines include those that are FDA approved or authorized or that have an emergency use listing (EUL) from the World Health Organization (WHO). Individuals can be considered fully vaccinated at least two weeks after the last dose of an accepted single-dose series or any combination of two doses of an accepted two-dose series. Children under the age of 18 are exempt from the vaccine requirement, and other limited exceptions apply. More information about the vaccination requirement is available from the CDC.

“Starting December 6, 2021, all air passengers aged two and older, regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than one day before travel to the United States. Both nucleic acid amplification tests, such as a PCR test, and antigen tests qualify. In a very limited number of cases, there are additional testing requirements for those who are exempt from the proof of vaccination requirement and documentation needs for travelers who can demonstrate recent recovery from COVID-19 in place of a negative viral test. More information about the testing requirement and documentation is available from the CDC,” it said.

Also the new guidelines says, all air passengers are required to provide contact information to airlines before boarding flights to the United States for the purposes of contact tracing. This process is critical to detect and respond to variants of COVID-19, helping protect the public and international visitors.

An additional guidance says, children under the age of 18 are currently exempt from the vaccine requirement. Children between the ages of two and 17 who are not fully vaccinated may board a flight to the United States with a negative pre-departure COVID-19 viral test conducted no more than one day before departure if accompanied by fully vaccinated parents or guardians. If traveling unaccompanied or if one or more of the parents or guardians accompanying the child is not fully vaccinated, the child must present a negative pre-departure COVID-19 viral test conducted no more than one day before departure. While children under two years of age are not required to get a test, CDC recommends a pre-departure test for these children whenever possible. More information is available from the CDC.

“As visitors plan a trip, it’s important to research the local rules for where they want to visit when traveling with kids or booking any attraction tickets. Helpful resources are linked below under State and Local Requirements,” it mentioned.

The guidance also adds that all travelers are required to wear a mask over their nose and mouth while in airplanes, airports, and other indoor areas of public transportation while traveling to, within, or out of the United States. This mandate was recently extended and is currently in place through March 18, 2021. More information about the mask requirement is available from the CDC.

It says, once international visitors arrive at their destination, individual state and local governments, as well as some businesses, may have their own health and safety guidelines regarding masks, social distancing, vaccination status, and more. As visitors plan trips, these resources organized by states, territories, and cities by U.S. region may be useful.

The guidelines suggested that just as before the pandemic, visitors to the United States must first obtain a visa. Certain international travelers may be eligible to travel to the United States without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel. More information is available from the U.S. Department of State.

“To ensure entry into the country, all travelers should check the status of required travel documents, including visa waivers, prior to departure,” it said.

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