U.S. to Open Air Travel to Most Vaccinated Foreigners
Transport and health ministers of the G-7 countries are due to meet virtually on Thursday to discuss ways to restart international travel, according to people familiar with the matter.
The meeting is being organized by the U.K., which holds the presidency of the Group of Seven nations this year, said the people, who asked not to be identified ahead of any official statement. It’s aimed at moving closer to a consensus on how to ease border restrictions.
While some countries, notably members of the European Union, have used so-called vaccine passports to successfully resume cross-border travel, others including the U.S. have held back on implementing app-based technology over concerns ranging from politics to privacy or fairness between people who have and haven’t received the shots. Another sticking point has been whether to recognize vaccines in countries where they haven’t been approved.
Airlines for Europe, the industry lobby group, called on the G-7 to promote the EU’s approach as a global standard. Citizens within the bloc are able to move between countries without COVID-19 tests if they can show they’ve been fully inoculated or have recovered from the disease. Travelers present a digital or paper-based bar code, and the EU and U.K. have granted reciprocal recognition.
“By accepting not only vaccination and recovery certificates, but also COVID-19 test results, it is both fair and respectful of data privacy,” A4E said by email.
Even as countries start to reopen borders, the easings have been piecemeal, frustrating airlines and travel companies hard-hit by the collapse in tourism brought on by the coronavirus. A high-level consensus by the G-7 could provide a template for common rules across the globe and spur consumer confidence in international travel rules.
Still, major decisions on travel have been made at the highest levels of most governments, for example at the White House, not the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Recent developments tied to rising vaccination rates have generated some optimism for a reopening. The U.K. is due to ease coronavirus testing requirements for fully vaccinated people arriving in England early next month.
The U.S. announced Sept. 20 it would allow entry of foreign air travelers starting in “early November,” ending a ban on most visitors from Europe that had stood since mid-2020. Details such as the start date haven’t been announced.
The U.S. and U.K. moves have sparked a rally in aviation stocks and a jump in bookings for trans-Atlantic flights.