International Travelers Welcomed Back to the U.S.

On Monday, November 8th, the United States (U.S.) opened its borders back up to international travelers. The borders to Canada and Mexico were also opened at this time. The lifting of the ban is allowing many friends and families to finally be reunited after being separated since the emergence of Covid-19 and gives a boost to the travel industry that has been hit hard by the pandemic. Airline and industry data shows that international travel is expected to increase as we head into the holiday season.

To enter the U.S., airline travelers must show official proof of vaccination and a recent negative Covid-19 test. Travelers crossing into the U.S. from Mexico or Canada will only have to provide proof of vaccination and not a negative Covid-19 test. It is reported that some travelers at the U.S.-Mexico border will not immediately be able to enter the U.S. if they received a vaccine that has not yet been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). These vaccines include the Sputnik V from Russia and CanSino from China. No foreign travelers will be required to quarantine upon entry.

Since the announcement from the White House, international ticket sales have steadily increased. This increase is hoped to help alleviate the more than $250 million in lost income due to the pandemic according to Reuters. Further, chief executive of the Airlines for America industry trade group, Nick Calio, states that a “full reopening of international travel is critical to reviving economies around the globe, reinvigorating communities and supporting millions of jobs in the U.S. and abroad.”

The international travel ban in the U.S. began in early 2020 during the Trump administration due to rising Covid-19 cases. This ban initially barred access to non-citizens traveling from China but was then extended to over 30 countries, including most of Europe. It also limited overland travel from both Mexico and Canada. This travel ban closed the U.S. to “millions of people for 20 months” according to the Associated Press.

The reopening of international travel is a positive first step in recovering from the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Businesses along the borders have suffered during this prolonged closure period. Sales in San Ysidro fell “75% from pre-Covid levels, forcing nearly 300 businesses to close” according to the Associated Press. The reopening of the border will not immediately fix the economic circumstances of those who were severely affected. Further, airline officials stress that tourism and family trips are only half the battle of the airline industry’s recovery. There may be bumps along the road to recovery and there is a possibility that the borders could close again if Covid cases rise. Regardless, the reopening of borders looks to be the first step in returning to the normalcy that so many people crave.