The United States will lift its travel ban on fully vaccinated visitors from the European Union and the United Kingdom from "early November," Washington's COVID-19 response coordinator announced on Monday.
Jeff Zients said EU and UK travelers flying to the US will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as testing negative for the coronavirus within three days of their flight.
US citizens who are not fully vaccinated will still be able to enter the country but only with proof of a negative test within a day of travel.
Restrictions on vehicle movement from Canada and Mexico will remain in place. "We do not have any updates on the land border policies," Zients said.
Europe hails US decision to open up
The lifting of the ban has been met with widespread approval across Europe.
European Commissioner Thierry Breton called Monday's announcement "a logical decision given the success of our EU vaccination campaign."
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was set to meet with President Joe Biden in the US this week, said he was "delighted."
"It's a fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again," he said in a statement.
German Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed the development in a tweet, describing it as "great news for German and European investments, our exports and trans-Atlantic relations."
Scholz is also the country's finance minister and the front-runner in the race to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel, with Germany's fedreal election less than a week away.
The EU's ambassador to the United States also welcomed the news. Stavros Lambrinidis tweeted: "Vaccinated, pre-flight tested Europeans will again be able to travel to the US from November, just as vaccinated Americans are today allowed to travel to the EU."
Biden pressured by businesses, airlines
The restrictions have been in place since March 2020, when ex-US President Donald Trump curbed travel to the US in a bid to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
But in recent months, airlines and business leaders had been pressuring Biden to lift the ban, arguing it was putting strain on the economy which was no longer necessary.
In the wake of Monday's announcement, the trade group Airlines For Europe predicted "a much-needed boost to trans-Atlantic traffic & tourism" which will "reunite families and friends."
And Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines, said "we welcome the Biden administration's science-based approach to begin lifting the restrictions."
jsi/dj (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)