More than a year and a half after COVID-19 concerns prompted the United States, to close its borders to international travellers from countries including Brazil, China, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom and much of Europe, restrictions are shifting to focus on vaccine status.
Beginning Monday, bans on travel from specific countries are over. The U.S. will allow in international travellers, but they must be vaccinated — with a few exceptions.
The U.S. is also reopening the land borders with Canada and Mexico for vaccinated people.
Air travellers will need to show proof of vaccination on arrival in the U.S. but will still need to show a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of boarding their flight.
Non-essential travellers crossing at a land border will be required to show proof of vaccination or attest to their vaccination status upon request by a border agent. Unlike air travellers, they will face no requirement to show a negative COVID-19 test.
But when returning to Canada, recreational travellers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before their return flight or planned arrival at the land border.
Canada will only accept a molecular test — such as a PCR test — which can cost hundreds of dollars.
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Children under 18 won’t need to be vaccinated but they do need to take a pre-entry COVID-19 test before entering the U.S. Kids who are two and younger are exempt from testing requirements.
Canada is still requiring all travellers five years of age or older who are entering the country to provide proof of a negative test, regardless of their point of entry.
As for which vaccines will let someone into the U.S., it’s any COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, which include the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines used in the U.S. as well as most used overseas, such as AstraZeneca and China’s Sinovac. Not currently allowed is Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which is authorized in 70 countries. The WHO is reviewing Sputnik but hasn’t approved it.
What’s happening across Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday morning, more than 249.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than five million.
In Europe, officials in Greece are now restricting access to cafes, restaurants, state services and banks to those who are either vaccinated against COVID-19 or have a negative test.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the Australian city of Sydney will further ease social distancing curbs on Monday a month after emerging from a coronavirus lockdown that lasted nearly 100 days, as close to 90 per cent of people have received both doses of vaccine, officials said.
Although limited to people who are fully inoculated, the relaxation in the state of New South Wales, home to Sydney, lifts limits on house guests or outdoor gatherings, among other measures.
In Asia, the Chinese mainland on Saturday reported 50 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, the National Health Commission said in its daily report on Sunday. The commission also reported 24 new imported cases on the day.
In the Americas, about four million U.S. federal workers are to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 22 under President Joe Biden’s executive order aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
Beyond that rule, another such mandate set to take effect in January, aimed at around 84 million private sector workers, is being challenged in court.
On Saturday, a federal appeals court in Louisiana temporarily halted the vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more workers.
The mandate states those workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly, starting Jan. 4.
In Africa, more than 8.5 million cases have so far been confirmed across the continent, along with more than 218,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization Africa Region. South Africa leads the continent on both counts, with more than 2.9 million cases and 89,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.