The United States has opened its borders to travellers from a host of new countries following nearly two years of closures in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As well as the UK, the travel ban is being lifted for people from Brazil, China, India, Ireland, South Africa, Iran and the Schengen countries – a group of 26 European nations.
The border reopened at 05:01 GMT this morning and the first flights took off from Heathrow at 08:30.
However, all visitors over 18 will have to provide proof of vaccination to enter the US.
American travellers have been able to travel to the UK since July.
UK transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has called this a “significant moment” for UK-US travel.
Until now, only US citizens, residents and a small selection of other exempt groups have been allowed entry to the US from the UK.
The new rules will apply to all individuals that have received vaccines approved by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and vaccines Listed for Emergency Use (EUL) by the World Health Organisation.
These include Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covaxin, Covishield, and BIBP/Sinopharm and Sinovac.
Travellers must provide proof of vaccination via their vaccine passport.
Certificates including the NHS Covid Pass will be accepted.
As well as being double vaccinated, travellers will have to provide proof of either a negative Covid-19 test result – taken no more than three days before travelling – or show that they have recovered from the virus in the previous three months.
Children are exempt from the vaccination requirement, but all those aged between two and 17 will have to take a Covid-19 test three to five days after arrival.
As the USA opens its borders, ABTA has revealed huge pent-up demand for people wishing to jet off to the destination.
New data from the organisation reveal almost one-in-five (18 per cent) of people who plan to holiday abroad hope to travel to the USA over the next year – making it the second most popular destination UK holidaymakers say they plan to travel to.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “British holidaymakers are now able to enjoy a long-anticipated break in the USA again.
“The reopening of travel to the US is a very welcome development.
“The USA is currently the second most popular destination on holidaymakers’ wish list for the next year.
“Pre-pandemic figures show that 4.8 million UK travellers visited the destination in 2019, drawn by vibrant cities, national parks and entertainment venues, with New York and Florida among the most popular destinations.”
He added: “The USA is also a destination where people go to study, visit friends and relatives and do business.
“The reconnecting of the USA and UK is a significant step in the recovery of international travel, helping to re-establish vital trade links.”
Take a look here as Breaking Travel News chats to Chris Thompson, chief executive of Brand USA, about the significance of the reopening milestone.
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