- Gabrielle Hendricks
New COVID-19 Travel Policy Unveiled
The new U.S. air travel policy spells out a policy of common sense and safety insurance for Americans and foreigners entering the U.S., while allowing the U.S. to interact more freely again with other nations, recreating a sense of normalcy.
On Oct. 15 the White House announced the lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions that will start on Nov. 8. The rules within the policy are rigid but more freeing than the previous restrictions. Before Nov. 8, the U.S. had a travel ban on foreigners entering the country from 33 countries, exempting U.S. citizens, residents and people of national interest. On Nov. 8, the ban on the 33 countries will be lifted, allowing foreigners who meet the new policy requirements to enter the country.
The first requirement in the policy is having legitimate proof of full vaccination three days before flight departure. Full vaccination means being vaccinated two weeks prior to international travels. This requirement is reasonable because it gives people time to seek a vaccination a month prior to their travel plans and two weeks to let the vaccination take total effect in their bodies, lowering the risk of themselves and others getting sick.
Only people with vaccinations from approved vaccine manufacturers can fly. The approved manufacturers are Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Sinovac. Unapproved vaccines include Sputnik V, Novavax, Soberana and Abdala. These unapproved vaccines can be later approved by the World Health Organization.
After fully vaccinated foreigners have entered the U.S., they are not required to quarantine. Masking, however, is required. These rules are fair because if vaccines are considered acceptable by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foreigners should not be subjugated to quarantine, and it strengthens the claim and trust in vaccine effectiveness. Masking is already a rule for U.S. citizens so it is fair that foreigners must follow the same rule and it limits the chance of disease spreading from strong, unexpected COVID-19 strands.
Airlines are also required to have full contact and health information of foreign and U.S. travelers to update them for contact tracing. This is a smart policy and not invasive as some would argue. U.S. airlines are usually governmentally regulated and a country and its facilities should have access to personal information during a serious pandemic, especially when people are traveling more freely.
There are exemptions to the travel policy for certain demographics. The main exempted group is unvaccinated children ages two to 17. Children need to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test three days prior to boarding flights to officially travel while unvaccinated. The exemption of children is fair because children who travel internationally mainly have contact with their vaccinated, adult relatives, making them unlikely to contract covid. Children also have a low risk of having serious health complications from contracting COVID-19, most are asymptomatic in fact.
The next exempted group are U.S. citizens re-entering the country. U.S. citizens, however, need to prove negative COVID-19 test one day before boarding flight. Unvaccinated Green Card holders have the same rules as U.S. citizens. This rule is also fair because citizens within the U.S. who do not travel have the sovereignty to not be vaccinated as it is a violation of our rights, and Green Card holders should have the same privileges.
The final group exempted are non-tourist travelers from 50 countries with vaccination rates of 10% or less. Once entering the U.S., this group of foreigners will have to be vaccinated within 60 days. I slightly disagree with this rule, I think it is unsafe that the U.S. is giving a 60-day opening before vaccination once entering the country. If we are going to allow people from countries with less accessibility to vaccines, they should have to be immediately vaccinated upon entering the U.S. and quarantine for two weeks. This would ensure safety for others and themselves.
The policy in whole is mostly reasonable and seemingly safe according to CDC and the WHO warnings of what is and is not safe regarding COVID-19. The U.S. and other countries can happily look forward to safe interactions with each other, resharing in transnational prosperity again.