After 18 months of uncertainty, President Joe Biden has decided to finally lift stringent Covid-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers from the UK and most of the European Union (EU) countries. The travel ban introduced by Donald Trump in efforts to slow down the spread of Coronavirus saw a dramatic decline in air travel across the Atlantic.
Proof of Vaccination
Although no precise start date has been given, Jeff Zients the White House Coronavirus response coordinator, announced on Monday that the travel restrictions will be lifted by early November for foreign nationals to travel to the U.S. Travellers from the UK and the 26 Schengen countries are required to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and must show proof of vaccination prior to boarding a U.S.-bound plane.
The easing of travel restrictions also applies to fully vaccinated travellers from Brazil, Iran, Ireland, India and South Africa, which will end the broad travel bans on most non-citizens from entering the U.S.
Unvaccinated U.S. citizens returning home will now face tighter rules set by the Biden administration and must test negative 24 hours before departure and test again 24 hours after returning.
This news comes alongside the UK government’s decision to scrap the travel traffic light system for fully vaccinated travellers.
Since the announcement Virgin Atlantic reports a 91% booking surge on flights to the U.S. within an hour of the announcement. CEO Shai Weiss said, “The U.S. Government’s announcement that fully vaccinated UK visitors will be able to enter the U.S. from November is a major milestone to the reopening of travel at scale across the Atlantic, allowing consumers and businesses to book travel to the U.S. with confidence”.
Airline share prices have also experienced a positive increase as share prices for IAG, the parent company of British Airways rose by 11% since the announcement. Other European carriers such as Air France, KLM and Lufthansa also enjoyed share price increases. Low-cost carrier EasyJet also saw a sharp increase of 9%, despite not being a transatlantic carrier.
A Boost for Transatlantic Travel
Transatlantic travel between the UK and the U.S. accounts for a significant amount of tourism for both countries, especially the London to New York route, which was one of the busiest and most lucrative international air corridors in the world, pre-pandemic.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted earlier that he is delighted that President Joe Biden is “reinstating transatlantic travel”. He added, “It’s a fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again.”