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UPDATE: US to lift travel ban for vaccinated Europeans on November 8th

Fully vaccinated travellers from Europe will finally be able to visit the US from November 8th the White House announced on Friday.

UPDATE: US to lift travel ban for vaccinated Europeans on November 8th
Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP
The United States announced on Friday it will lift Covid travel bans on all passengers from November 8th if they are fully vaccinated and undergo testing and contact tracing.

“The new US policy on travel that will require foreign travellers to the US to be fully vaccinated, will enter into force on November 8th,” the White House said in statement.

The easing of travel restrictions, imposed 18 months ago by Donald Trump as the Covid-19 pandemic first erupted, marks a significant shift by Biden and answers a major demand from European allies at a time of strained diplomatic relations.

Effectively the change means vaccinated travellers from Europe will be able to once again visit the US.

US nationals living in Europe and their close family members had been able to travel home across the Atlantic despite the ban but the strict rules had caused misery for many.

The initial announcement that travel restrictions would be eased was made in September and was greeted warmly in Europe.

German vice-chancellor Olaf Scholz tweeted: “Great news – for German and European investments, our exports and transatlantic relations” while the Air France chief described it as “great news”.

European countries have long since opened their borders to vaccinated American tourists, but despite diplomatic pressure in recent months the government in Washington had refused to reciprocate the move until now.

At the end of August the EU removed the US from its travel safe list. Following this move several European countries banned unvaccinated travellers from the US.

Member comments

  1. Sad thing is now it’s paradoxically actually easier for Europeans to travel than Americans. They have the luxury of testing BEFORE they leave home. If positive, stay home. We Americans who miss Italy have to risk testing positive while we’re overseas which is a luxury only the most priveleged can afford. Us plebs can’t risk having to add on 10 more days in a quarantine room to our trips. It’s actually easier for Americans to get into Europe than get home. Even while the US is one of the worst countries in the world for Delta many European countries will let us in just showing the CDC card. If someone can explain how this makes any sense I’d love to hear it. It’s extremely frustrating and also detrimental to the vaccine effort in the US. Either the vaccines work or they don’t but the policy of forcing vaccinated to test before returning home makes it look like they don’t. Stupid stupid stupid stupid.

    1. Agreed. Going to France was easy – I just showed that I was fully vaccinated. I came back to the US from Paris last week – from a country that is over 85% vaccinated to my own country that isn’t even 60% yet, but I had to get a negative test in Paris first. Crazy.

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TRAVEL NEWS

UK border control strikes threaten Christmas travel chaos to and from Italy

Planned industrial action by British border force staff is threatening to complicate or even ruin Christmas travel plans for thousands of people going between Italy and the UK over the festive period.

UK border control strikes threaten Christmas travel chaos to and from Italy

Travellers arriving at the UK’s biggest airports over the Christmas period could face severe delays entering the country and even risk having their flights cancelled as a result of strike action by British border force staff.

The planned strike action would take place from December 23rd until December 26th and then from December 28th to New Year’s Eve.

The UK’s Home Secretary Suella Braverman warned travellers heading to and from the UK over Christmas and New Year to expect severe disruption and to rethink travel plans if strike action goes ahead.

“If they go ahead with those strikes there will be undeniable serious disruption caused to many thousands of people who have holiday plans,” the minister said. “I really want to urge people who have got plans to travel abroad to think carefully about their plans because they may well be impacted.”

A senior UK Border Force official told Britain’s i newspaper that “travellers can expect long queues at the airports affected by the strikes. We’re looking at similar waits as when we had all the Covid protocol issues in summer 2021 when queues of 10 to 12 hours were not unusual.”

“Passengers should also expect flight cancellations due to staff shortages,” they added, “so should keep in touch with their airlines before travel.”

The government has been preparing for the strike by training 600 soldiers to check passports. Reports have claimed up to 30 percent of flights could be affected if strike action goes ahead.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) has voted for strike action over pay and conditions from December 23rd until the end of the year, with the exception of December 27th, that will affect all major UK airports.

The walkouts threaten to ruin Christmas travel plans for thousands of people coming from around the world, including Britons who live in Italy hoping to return home for the festive period, perhaps for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as those wanting to enjoy a warmer Christmas break in Italy.

British media outlets estimate that as many as two million passengers have booked to fly in and out of Britain over the Christmas period on at least 10,000 flights scheduled to arrive at the affected airports.

Where are the walkouts?

Around 1000 Border Force staff are set to walk out from all of the UK’s busiest airports, including Heathrow (Terminals 2,3,4 and 5), Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff, and also the port of Newhaven.

The strikes will fundamentally affect passport checks for arrivals into Britain, as 75 percent of passport control staff are PCS union members.

Christmas is already one of the busiest travel times of the year, and walkouts from border staff are likely to cause severe delays and cancellations. Some British media outlets are even reporting that passengers could be left to wait on their planes on the runway, something that would then have a knock-on effect on other incoming flights.

Though passports aren’t usually checked on outbound flights, arriving aircraft often turn around and set off on their next outbound journey within an hour or two. If queues for arrivals become so bad that passengers are kept on the runway, outbound flights will be delayed and departures could be cancelled.

A Home Office spokesperson said in a statement that “passengers should be prepared for potential disruption.”

Various affected airports have made preemptive statements expecting major delays and cancellations.

“We expect it will be necessary for airlines to cancel some services on the days impacted by strike action to ensure the number of arriving passengers aligns with lower UK Border Force resources,” a spokesman from Manchester airport said in a statement. “Arriving passengers should also be prepared for much longer immigration queues on strike days, owing to reduced Border Force staffing levels.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “The Home Office advises that immigration and customs checks may take longer during peak times on strike days… Passengers are advised to check their flight status with their airline before travelling.” they added.

The British Transport Minister, Baroness Vere, has said that “the government does have mitigations in place,” which is thought to include army personnel and volunteers filling in for the striking staff.


What if I have flights booked?

As the strike action has just been announced, normal cancellation rules still apply (for now) so don’t cancel your flight just yet. If your flight is cancelled by the airline, however, as is expected for many carriers in the coming weeks, your regular rights will apply, including the possibility of being flown via another route, even on another airline if necessary, and hotels should be provided if you are kept overnight.

However, it is worth noting that as Christmas is a peak travel period anyway, finding extra seats as flights are cancelled to soften the impact of the strikes may be difficult.

It remains to be seen if, when, and how many flights will be cancelled. Cancellations are expected by all major airports, who have advised that passengers check the status of their flights before travelling.

For those who are set on travelling, expect severe delays at passport control, and keep an eye on the status of your flight in the coming weeks. 

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