Well, this really is a good news Monday, although maybe not for BA who just extended status as the US announced reopening!
UPDATE: This has now been officially confirmed by the White House.
White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said
“Beginning in early November, foreign nationals flying to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated — fully vaccinated and they must show proof of vaccination prior to boarding a US-bound airplane,” Zients told reporters.
Fully vaccinated passengers will be able to travel to the US from the EU and UK from early November. This will mark the end of 18 months of restrictions to enter the US despite fully vaccinated Americans being able to visit the UK.
According to the contacts who spoke to the FT, it’s also great news for those involved in clinical trials for vaccines that are not yet approved in the UK. Unlike many countries, these people will also be allowed to enter the US. This should mean that Astra Zeneca should be accepted but as yet this has not been conformed by the CDC. As I wrote about here, this is one part of a change in travel policy for the US for all international travel, not just from the UK and Europe. How they have decided 18 months into the pandemic to finally have a proper policy, I have no idea.
It is expected that all WHO recognised vaccines will be acceptable that includes Oxford AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Moderna Pfizer BioNTech, Sinopharm and Sinovac. Protocols for unvaccinated children are still unclear.
A task force was set up in June to discuss how to replace the piecemeal system of bans and restrictions that apply to different countries. At the moment, only American citizens, their immediate families, green card holders, certain Visa holders, and those with national interest exemptions can travel to the US if they have been in the UK or EU in the previous 14 days.
It was expected that Boris would appeal to Biden this week at the UN General Assembly in New York after weeks of diplomacy between Washington, London, and Brussels. Angela Merkel previously called on Biden to act but most recently the EU took away the US’s safe status although fully vaccinated Americans are still allowed entry in many European countries.
You may wish to consider booking something in the BA sale which ends tomorrow!
Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic commented: “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.”
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.”
In the hours following reports around the reopening of the US-UK travel corridor this November, British Airways Holidays saw an increase of nearly 700% in searches for holidays to key US destinations compared to the same time last week. These included New York, Orlando, Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles and Boston.
I am expecting a sale for the US shortly.