Fully vaccinated Irish tourists will be able to enter the US from November onward, the White House has confirmed.
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients announced the "new international air travel" system on Monday morning, which will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals, including those from Ireland and Northern Ireland, to enter the US starting early November.
"Foreign nationals flying to the US will be required to be fully vaccinated," Zients said at a press conference on Monday.
Travelers will be required to show proof of full vaccination, as well as a negative COVID test taken within three days prior to travel, prior to boarding US-bound flights. The CDC in the US will release a list of its accepted vaccinations before the policy goes into effect in November.
The CDC will also be issuing a contact tracing order which will require airlines to collect information such s phone numbers and email addresses of US-bound passengers in the coming weeks, Zients said.
Zients said: "This vaccination requirement deploys the best tool we have in our arsenal to keep people safe and prevent the spread of the virus.
"Vaccines continue to show that they're highly effective, including against the delta variant, and the new system allows us to implement strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19."
Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Internal Market who was involved with negotiations of the new travel system, welcomed the news on Monday:
Today the US announce lifting the travel ban on fully vaccinated Europeans.September 20, 2021
The Financial Times reports that the new measures are part of a wider policy that President Biden is developing to cover all international travel, replacing the old system of bans and restrictions applying to people from different parts of the world.
US to relax EU and UK travel restrictions for vaccinated passengers https://t.co/Mh3uP2zHEK— Financial Times (@FT) September 20, 2021
The measures announced today mark the end of a long-standing ban on EU and UK tourists that was introduced by former President Donald Trump in March 2020 and continued in January 2021 when President Biden took office.
Under current restrictions, only American citizens, their immediate families, green card holders, and those with national interest exemptions can travel to the US if they have been in the EU, including Ireland, or the UK, including Northern Ireland, within the last 14 days.
The White House had faced mounting pressure from EU member states to lift travel restrictions given the high rate of vaccinations in Europe.
All EU member states opened their borders to US tourists during the summer, but the US did not reciprocate, leading to widespread criticism.
Daniel Mulhall, Ireland's Ambassador to the United States, said that the travel ban was "damaging" EU-US relations, while Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU's Ambassador to the US, said that the ban "seriously harms vital economic and human ties, at a time when they're most needed".