US Travel Update: US Opens Travel from Other Countries

US Travel Update: US Opens Travel from Other Countries

DHS Terminates COVID-related Flight Arrival Restrictions

The U.S. Government published an announcement confirming that it will stop requiring the arrivals of international flights to only a certain number of airports in the US.

But the reason the decision has been reached is not new.

Starting on September 14, 2020, the original restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the United States will come to an end. 

The original restrictions were announced to funnel travellers between February and May, 2020 through to 15 US airports. Travellers from 31 countries, including People’s Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), Iran, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, and the 26 countries within Europe’s Schengen Area have been limited to travel to these airports only.

This did not mean that travellers from these countries were permitted to travel to the US as the Presidential proclamations signed by President Trump banned travellers from these countries from entering the US in the first place.

It meant that flights into the US that were carrying passengers that had visited the designated countries in the previous 14 days were required to land at these designated airports.

The airports were equipped with increased public health resources to carry out enhanced entry screening. As of this week, international flights no longer needed to be directed to the designated airports and enhanced screening will stop. 

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The reasoning behind why flight restrictions are to stop

The CDC in the US is now stating that screening for symptoms doesn’t really help much because so many people do not have symptoms.

Currently, there are 6.65 million cases of coronavirus reported in the US and over 197,000 people dead, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

“Beginning September 14, 2020, the US government will remove requirements for directing all flights carrying airline passengers arriving from, or recently had a presence in, certain countries to land at one of 15 designated airports and halt enhanced entry health screening for these passengers,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an updated post on its website.

“Currently, enhanced entry health screening is conducted for those arriving from, or with recent presence in, China (excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau), Iran, the Schengen region of Europe, the United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe), Ireland, and Brazil.”

The CDC in the US is now stating that screening for symptoms doesn’t really help much because so many people do not have symptoms.

“Transmission of the virus may occur from passengers who have no symptoms or who have not yet developed symptoms of infection. Therefore, CDC is shifting its strategy and prioritizing other public health measures to reduce the risk of travel-related disease transmission,” the agency said.

Essentially, the US Government now believes that terminating these flight arrangements will allow public health resources to be more effectively reprioritised for other containment and mitigation efforts and will stimulate air travel. 

Instead of these restrictions, passengers will be advised about risks of the coronavirus and traveller health education and illness reporting systems will remain in place.

The CDC stated that resources will instead be dedicated to “more effective mitigation efforts” focused on individuals.

These will include “pre-departure, in-flight, and post-arrival health education for passengers; robust illness response at airports; voluntary collection of contact information from passengers using electronic means,” the CDC said. That should help reduce crowding and lines, it said.

Testing may also be an option, as well as reminding travellers to watch for symptoms and quarantine themselves as possible for 14 days.

The changes do not change the travel restrictions barring entry to the U.S. from Canada or Mexico or the other US travel ban restrictions.

What are your thoughts on the US’s stopping flights being funnelled to 15 airports? Comment below.

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