US extends Covid travel restrictions until April
The current requirements to enter America, which were set to be scrapped at the start of the year, will continue into April 2023.
In contrast to a majority of countries worldwide, the United States still imposes Covid-19 related travel restrictions, which requires anyone entering the country to be fully vaccinated, and those without proof may be turned away. The US government had outlined plans to scrap these rules on January 8; however, subsequently, the Transport Security Association (TSA) announced they would be extending them until at least April 10. The rules apply to any non-American travellers wanting to visit the country and does not apply to unvaccinated US citizens or children under 17 years old. All airlines continue to be advised to check passengers’ proof of vaccination before departure and bar anyone without proof from boarding.
Reaction to China´s reopening
The rules have been in place since October 2021, one month prior to America’s planned reopening to international visitors. Although unconfirmed, due to the timing of the announcement, it is believed the extension has been implemented in reaction to China’s reopening. After removing restrictions and reopening borders this month, China has seen a wave of Covid-19 infections and many countries have imposed similar restrictions, although these are targeted specifically at visitors travelling from China.
ESTA visa waiver
Some countries, particularly in Europe have made changes so that visitors from China must also present negative test results before entering the country. On top of its Covid-related travel requirements, entry to the US also requires an ESTA visa waiver which can be applied for online. However, travellers who have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen since March 2021 are not eligible for an ESTA and need to apply for a full visa at a US Embassy.
On top of this, there is current confusion surrounding the requirements for travellers who have visited Cuba. The US government website states that travellers who have been to Cuba are no longer eligible for an ESTA, as the country was designated a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ under Donald Trump’s reforms in 2021. However, sources are mixed on whether this applies to travel to Cuba after 2011 or after 2021. Tourists visiting America should be prepared to present their ESTA and proof of full vaccination such as a certificate from an approved international body.