Hallelujah. Our doors are once again open. Sort of. November 8th marks the day when the United States will partially end its Coronavirus travel ban which was placed by then-President Trump I the early days of the pandemic. Can we let out a collective sigh of relief?
While this move by President Biden does not re-open the floodgates to travel, it is a significant first step. With some caveats.
- Airlines must collect personal information from all U.S.-bound travelers for contact tracing and maintain it for 30-days.
- Starting Nov. 8, fully vaccinated foreign nationals will now be able to cross the land borders (Mexico and Canada) for tourism or visiting friends and family. Prior to this, a business need was required.
- Foreign visitors and US citizens who are unvaccinated will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of departure (from originating location).
- Vaccinated citizens and visitors will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test that was taken within three days of departure.
And about that COVID testing…a client just returned from 15 days in southern Africa and COVID testing was required there as well, and the availability was sparse and the cost significant. They missed two interior flights due to the inability to find a testing site in the timeframe required. Additionally, their group of four spent more than $2000 on tests between departing the US and returning.
As you can see, this is not the Southwest “ding..you are now free to move about the country” we all hope for, but it is a huge step toward normalcy and we must be aware of these rules as our clients begin to feel more comfortable traveling.
I finally think we are seeing the start of the closure of this pandemic. The numbers all seem to be moving in the right direction and more and more people are getting vaccinated and boosted. Let’s keep our fingers crossed; and as professionals, let’s make sure we’re keeping up on any changes that may come down. As we come out of this, our shared value as an industry will be amplified and travelers will understand that (to coin an old ASTA tagline) without a travel agent, you are on your own.