The US is reopening its borders on November 8 to fully vaccinated visitors, ending a 20-month entry ban.
The ban was imposed by former President Donald Trump due to Covid-19.
It has affected non-US citizens from over 30 countries, including the UK and EU states, separating families and stalling tourism.
Airlines are expecting a flood of visitors as the restrictions are lifted for those who are fully vaccinated, and undergo testing and contact tracing.
In an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, US borders were initially closed to travelers from China in early 2020. The restrictions were then extended to other countries.
The rules barred entry to most non-US citizens who had been in the UK and a number of other European countries, as well as China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.
Under the new rules, foreign travelers will need to show proof of vaccination before flying, get a negative Covid-19 test result within three days of traveling, and hand over their contact information. They will not have to quarantine.
The US land borders with neighbors Canada and Mexico will also reopen for the fully vaccinated.
Thousands of migrants have arrived in areas along Mexico’s border with the US, hoping to take advantage of the newly-relaxed rules.
In southern Mexico, a new caravan of thousands of mainly Central American migrants – many of them children – has crossed from Chiapas to Oaxaca state, with the ultimate aim of reaching the border and being accepted into the US.
The Migrant Alliance Group, a Mexico-based advocacy group, has warned that false information is being spread about the new rules in some communities – with many asylum seekers assuming that they will now receive more favorable treatment from border officials.
Businesses in cities along the border with Mexico are hoping for a boost after struggling under America’s Covid-induced restrictions.
United Airlines says it expects a 50% rise in international inbound passengers, while Delta’s chief executive Ed Bastian warned travelers to expect queues.
The EU recommended allowing American travelers into the bloc in June, while visitors from the US have been able to travel to the UK since July 28.
According to NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the city was badly hit by the virus earlier this year when nearly 18,000 people died with Covid-19 in March, April and May.
Other states have broken new case records this week with Texas becoming the first state to hit one million total cases on November 10. If Texas were a separate country, it would rank 11th in the world for most cases.
Other states, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California and Florida, have also seen numbers rise. CBS News reports 15 states saw the numbers of patients in hospital due to the virus double in the last month.
Some hospitals, such as in Idaho and Missouri, have had to turn patients away because they ran out of room.
Americans have packed beaches and lakes for Memorial Day weekend, often flouting restrictions imposed to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.
In Florida, state police dispersed an unauthorized gathering of hundreds of people in Daytona Beach on May 23.
In Missouri, bars at the Lake of the Ozarks were packed with revelers, who violated social-distancing rules.
Coronavirus task force chief Dr. Deborah Birx said she was “very concerned” after seeing such scenes.
Dr. Birx said on ABC’s This Week on May 24: “We really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. And if you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask.”
St Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said: “It’s irresponsible and dangerous to engage in such high risk behavior just to have some fun over the extended holiday weekend.
“Now, these folks will be going home to S. Louis and counties across Missouri and the Midwest, raising concerns about the potential of more positive cases, hospitalizations, and tragically, deaths. Deeply disturbing.”
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