People in the US who’ve had both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are able to travel to dozens of countries without needing to self-isolate when they return. Other countries, such as the UK, may follow its example. Rose Dykins reports

About two months ago, in April, travel restrictions were eased for US travellers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 – opening up more than 100 destinations for international trips, without the need to self-isolate upon arrival back home.

Now the UK government is suggesting that its citizens who have been double-vaccinated will also receive the same privileges (Globetrender predicted that “Vaccine VIPs” would be granted more freedom back in 2020).

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that fully vaccinated US travellers can travel with “low risk to themselves”. Two weeks after citizens have had their second Covid-19 jab, they no longer need to quarantine after being abroad, unless it is required by a local state or jurisdiction.

However, all international travellers (even Vaccine VIPs) have to be tested before they enter the US, and 3-5 days after arrival.

The removal of the need for vaccinated travellers to self-isolate is a crucial step towards the resurrection of the travel sector. Non-vaccinated US travellers, however, are advised by the CDC to avoid travelling at present.

The CDC has updated its travel advice so that a number of new countries can be visited more easily by vaccinated citizens. These countries include France, Italy, Spain and Germany.

These countries – along with Canada, Mexico, Japan, Russia and South Africa – have been moved down a tier from the CDC’s Level 4 rating (“very high” risk, with the recommendation to avoid travelling) to Level 3 (high risk, with the recommendation for travellers to be fully vaccinated before travelling).

The UK remains a Level 3 country and, at the moment, travel from the UK to the US is banned unless individuals’ have an exemption.

The updated advice from the CDC gives better differentiates between countries with “severe outbreak situations” and those with “sustained, but controlled” Covid-19 spread, according to the public health body.

“The science shows us that getting fully vaccinated allows you to do more things safely and it’s important for us to provide that guidance even in the context of rising cases,” said Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director. “Our guidance is silent or not silent on recommending fully vaccinated people travel, but it speaks to the safety of doing so.”

Roger Dow chief executive of the US Travel Association, says: “The travel industry’s mantra throughout the pandemic has been to be guided by the science, which clearly shows that now is the right time for this move. Meanwhile, it remains important that all eligible Americans get vaccinated as soon as they can in order to more quickly recover the ability for all to travel freely.”

Meanwhile, the US and the UK have established a task force with the aim to resume travel between the two counties “as a matter of priority.”

As the US and UK populations become more widely vaccinated, the task force will be pushing for transatlantic travel to resume as soon as possible – and potentially for a travel corridor to be set up between the two countries, eliminating the need for quarantine. The UK is the third biggest travel market for the US (after Canada and Mexico, respectively) contributing US$16 billion per year.

Currently, the UK’s Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to the whole of the US. The latter is on the UK’s amber list, meaning all travellers arriving into Britain from the US need to self-isolate for ten days.

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