PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The United States is lifting restrictions for vaccinated foreign travelers from a number of countries starting Monday.
Because of COVID-19 protocols, foreign travelers were closed out of the U.S. for the last year and a half.
But this week, that ban is being lifted for people coming from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Ireland and much of Europe. The U.S. is also opening its land borders to Canada and Mexico.
People coming into the U.S. must now be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with vaccines approved from the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization. This includes the AstraZeneca vaccine being used in Europe and Canada. All air travelers must also test before boarding.
"Some categories of noncitizen, nonimmigrants are excepted from this requirement," said the CDC. "If you meet the criteria for one of these categories, you will need to fulfill additional requirements to travel by air to the United States."
Those exceptions include official diplomatic travel, people unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for documented medical reasons, participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials, U.S. service members and their children, and people with valid emergency or humanitarian exceptions.
Travelers with the above exemptions must be tested three to five days after arriving, and have to quarantine for seven days. If the test is positive, or should they begin to show symptoms, they must self-isolate.
The new rules do not apply to U.S. citizens, nationals, lawful permanent residents or immigrants. This update also means people who live abroad can visit family members who live in the U.S. for holidays.
Heather Redfern, public affairs manager at Philadelphia International Airport, said airlines set their schedules so far in advance that they do not expect to see any immediate change to travel. But when that travel does pick up, she said it will be a good thing.
"Because Philadelphia is the transatlantic hub for American Airlines, this will open up many of those destinations that we previously had to reopen for our passengers coming to and from, and it's really important for the local economy."
Redfern said things will likely pick up in time for the holiday season.
"People will be able to come in with their families for the holidays. Flights that we've had, London, Dublin, Frankfurt, probably the return trips for the American passengers coming back to PHL will be a little bit more crowded now."
Redfern advised travelers to make plenty of time to prepare, and to be ready for longer lines when returning to the U.S., as there will be more people coming into the country. She also suggested people continue to check the CDC's website as well as your airline's site for guidance before departing.