President Joe Biden will allow UK to US travel to resume from November under a shake-up of coronavirus rules – with Boris Johnson saying Brits can get there for Thanksgiving
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Double jabbed Brits have been given the green light to travel to the United States within weeks as President Joe Biden finally lifts the coronavirus travel ban.
The White House announced that vaccinated passengers from the European Union and the UK will be able to enter the country from November.
It marks the end of an 18-month blanket ban imposed by Donald Trump at the height of the Covid pandemic that has kept tourists, business people and separated families out.
Before the Covid pandemic, more than 4m Brits flew to the US every year but during travel restrictions only a fraction of those trips have gone ahead.
White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said: “Most importantly, foreign nationals flying to the U.S. will be required to be fully vaccinated.”
Downing Street sources had said the PM would make an “impassioned” push to the US to allow double jabbed Brits to travel directly into America.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “delighted” that US President Joe Biden is “reinstating transatlantic travel” for Brits, saying: “They’ll be able to get there by Thanksgiving, that’s a great thing.”
He added: “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.”
But the move appeared to take Boris Johnson by surprise after he warned reporters not to “hold their breath” that US borders would be reopened any time soon.
On his flight out to the US, where he will meet Mr Biden at the White House during a diplomatic visit, the Prime Minister played down hopes he could persuade him to lift the ban.
He said: “I don’t think we’re necessarily going to crack it this week. I’ve got to warn you I don’t think this is going to be necessarily fixed this week.
“We are going to try but I’m told that I wouldn’t necessarily hold your breath.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This is a testament to the work and progress made by the expert working group set up at the G7 to restart Transatlantic travel – the flagship route of international aviation.”
Mr Biden had pledged to ease restrictions when he travelled to the UK for the G7 summit in June – but his failure to do so had left many British travellers frustrated.
The policy could eventually apply to the citizens of all countries with high vaccination rates wishing to travel to the US.
Currently only American nationals, green card holders and those with national interest exemptions are permitted entry if they have been in the UK or EU in the previous 14 days.
The announcement is a major boost for airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, and Heathrow Airport.
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They have repeatedly blamed the travel ban for limiting the recovery of passenger numbers during the virus crisis.
Heathrow has gone from being Europe’s busiest airport in 2019 to 10th, behind rivals in cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt.
White House Covid-19 co-ordinator Jeff Zients, who announced the end of the travel ban, said all foreign visitors will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination as well as proof of a negative test taken with the previous three days.
Airlines will be required to collect contact information from international travellers so that they can be traced if required.
Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said the easing of restrictions is “a major milestone to the reopening of travel at scale, allowing consumers and businesses to book travel to the US with confidence”.
He went on: “The UK will now be able to strengthen ties with our most important economic partner, the US, boosting trade and tourism as well as reuniting friends, families and business colleagues.”
Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said: “Connectivity between the US and the UK is part of the bedrock of the global economy.
“The Prime Minister has secured a massive win for global Britain in getting these links restarted.”
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