US lifts travel restrictions on vaccinated South Africans

Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty.

By November, the United States will allow entry to South African travelers provided they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The US government has imposed a travel ban on most countries for more than 18 months.

The measures, announced Monday by the White House, will ease restrictions on the UK and the 26 Schengen countries in Europe, as well as Ireland, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa and India, The Guardian reported.

Travelers must prove that they are fully vaccinated before boarding a flight and must have a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure. They will not be forced to self-quarantine upon arrival in the United States, AFP reported.

Bloomberg reports that while the move will open the United States to millions of vaccinated people, the White House has called the crackdown, pointing to stricter testing rules and a new contact tracing regime.

The new policy will go into effect “in early November,” according to the White House, although the exact date is not yet clear.

“We know that vaccines are effective, including against the delta variant, and vaccines are the best line of defense against [Covid-19], so this vaccination requirement deploys the best tool we have in our arsenal to keep people safe and prevent the spread of the virus, ”White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said on Monday.

The new rules will replace the current system, which includes outright entry bans for foreigners who have stayed in certain areas, such as the UK and EU, in the previous two weeks, regardless their vaccination status.

“We will protect Americans here at home and improve the safety of international travel,” Zients said.

Germany also eased travel restrictions on South Africans on Monday, while the UK kept South Africa on its red list.

– Fin24 and Bloomberg

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