Credit: Shutterstock

USA opens up travel to vaccinated holidaymakers - what does it mean for cruises?

Author: Harriet Mallinson

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US holidays are set to return in just two months as the United States announced a new international air travel system on Monday.

USA travel is set to open up to all fully-vaccinated travellers from November.

The ban on non-essential visitors has been in place since early 2020 due to the Covid pandemic, but now, with the USA currently on the amber list and UK testing rules to simplify next month, American getaways are very much back on the card from autumn onwards for those fully jabbed.

From November 2021 jet-setters will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding an America-bound plane.

"Most importantly, foreign nationals flying to the U.S. will be required to be fully vaccinated," said. White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients.

A Covid test will also be needed within three days of departure. However, no quarantine will be needed.

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Some people are concerned about the vaccines recognised by the US - the government has still not yet accept AstraZeneca.

According to Zients, the US Centers for Disease Control will determine which vaccines the new rules will apply to.

A White House source told the BBC that the question of whether people who have had the AstraZeneca jab or 12- to 18-year-olds who have only had one vaccine would be allowed in from November was a level of "granular detail" that was still under examination.

According to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO): "The CDC has stated that, in their guidance on what constitutes someone who is fully vaccinated, COVID-19 vaccines that have been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organisation such as the AstraZeneca/Oxford and Covishield vaccines, are recognised by the US Government.

"How this guidance is interpreted will vary depending on the locality in the US."

- READ MORE: US revealed to be number one cruise destination for Brits -

It is believed the relaxation of travel rules has been timed with Thanksgiving which falls on November 25 this year, reported the BBC, although a precise date for the changes has not yet been given.

European Union Ambassador to the U.S. Stavros Lambrinidis tweeted on Monday: "Together with my EU Member State colleagues, we have been working diligently to lift the #travelban on Europeans. Hope there’ll be a positive announcement soon."

The travel industry has welcomed the decision from the US.

Travel expert Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultants The PC Agency, tweeted: "Brilliant news at last from @JoeBiden - enabling a multi-billion pound part of the travel industry to get going again in November."

US holidays: A Covid test will also be needed within three days of departure. Credit: Shutterstock

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: "Brilliant collaboration through our UK/US working group has led to Transatlantic flights resuming from Nov for double jabbed! Great outcome thanks to @BorisJohnson & @POTUS."

An ABTA spokesperson said: “The news that double vaccinated travellers will be allowed to travel to the US from the UK from November is great news for holidaymakers, business travellers and those who have been separated from friends and family for so long.

"The USA is by far our most popular long haul destination and in a normal year attracts almost five million visitors from the UK. The announcement will come in time to allow people to, among other things, take the ever-popular Christmas shopping trips to New York and is a very welcome boost for the winter sports market whose customers love the country’s high-quality ski resorts.”

Monday's announcement came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrived in New York to attend the UN General Assembly before heading to the White House. He is said to be "delighted."

US travel: Boris Johnson visited the White House yesterday and is "delighted" by the news. Credit: Shutterstock

So, what does it all mean for cruise holidays? The news will prove a boon to cruise lines that have been prevented from operating US sailings due to the travel ban and opens up a plethora of exciting itineraries to UK holidaymakers.

The Cruise Lines International Association commented on the news: "CLIA joins our peers across the travel and tourism sector to express our appreciation to the Biden Administration for recognising the importance of international travel to the U.S. economy and for establishing a path for international visitors to travel to the United States responsibly.

"The cruise industry is an important driver of international visits to the United States, prompting approximately 2.5 million international visitors to travel to the United States to embark on a cruise in 2019, representing nearly 18 percent of all U.S. cruise embarkations.

- READ MORE: Complete guide to major cruise lines' start dates -

"International cruise visitors in the United States spend $4.5 billion annually on hotel stays, transportation, retail and other U.S. businesses, supporting nearly 60,000 American jobs.

"Our members look forward to welcoming international travellers, including from the United Kingdom and the European Union, back to the United States while continuing to prioritise public health."

The CDC approved the resumption of cruises in US waters back in May, with Royal Caribbean the first line to sail.

Strict rules remain in place, however. The CDC states: "CDC has issued an Order that requires face masks to be worn by all travellers while on public transportation including all passengers on board and all personnel operating maritime conveyances travelling into, within, or out of the United States.

"Masks are also required while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs, including seaports and ferry terminals. Travellers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance."

US holidays: Travel to the USA will be opened up to all full-vaccinated travellers from November. Credit: Shutterstock

Currently, Britons are barred from travelling to the US - although there are some exceptions.

"It is not possible for most British nationals to enter the USA if they have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Iran, Brazil, China, South Africa or India within the previous 14 days," explains the FCDO.

It adds: "US citizens and permanent residents of the USA, certain specified close family members and certain other limited categories of visas holders (such as UN staff and diplomats) are exempt."

As for testing, the FCDO details: "The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country get a COVID test no more than three days before their flight departs and present a negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight.

"If you are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine or a vaccine authorised for emergency use by the World Health Organisation, you should also get a viral test three to five days after travel.

"Unvaccinated people should get tested with a viral test three to five days after travel and self-quarantine for a full seven days after travel."

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Concerning quarantine, the FCDO explains:" For international arrivals, the CDC requires that unvaccinated passengers are tested within three to five days after travel and self-quarantine for seven days after travel.

"Passengers fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO-approved vaccine do not have to quarantine but need to take a viral test within three to five days of arrival."

It is not yet known how the USA will accept proof of vaccine.

According to the FCDO: "The USA has not yet confirmed that it will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record.

"You should follow the entry rules for unvaccinated people. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination."

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