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Travel ban loosened for fully vaccinated air travelers; Land crossings still banned

US extends travel restrictions at Mexican borders
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Posted at 4:42 PM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-20 19:47:00-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- The Biden Administration is loosening air-travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers starting November.

Washington leaders announced Monday that foreign travelers flying in from formerly banned countries, including the UK and Ireland, will be allowed, citing improving COVID-19 numbers.

"This is a great monumental step for the travel industry," Sabrina Lopiccolo, Spokesperson with the San Diego International Airport, said.

Lopiccolo said international flights bring in about $432 million into the region.

The new rule state vaccinated foreigners coming into the US by air must provide proof of full vaccination, take a pre-departure COVID test within three days of the flight and provide a negative result, and will not be subject to quarantine mandates upon arrival.

Un-vaccinated travelers will have stricter rules. They must take a pre-departure COVID test within one day of the flight and provide a negative result, and take another test upon return.

"This just really strengthens our ability to rebuild and regain international air service that we lost because of COVID," Lopiccolo said.

But not all doors will be opened.

"We've done everything we're supposed to do to operate safely. Open our doors," Jason Wells, Executive Director with the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, said.

Monday's announcement did not include an update on land border policies.

Wells said 250 businesses have shut down in San Ysidro alone since non-essential travel was banned in March 2020. He believes the politicians on the Hill are not fully grasping the detriment the closures mean to border communities.

"It's like being in Washington DC, and saying 'I'm going to Virginia versus I'm going to Maryland.' It's crossing the street. That's what the border is to us, and that's completely been disrupted," Wells said.

Starting November, the CDC will also issue a contact tracing order. Airlines must keep phone numbers and emails of travelers coming into the US for at least 30 days to alert travelers of potential exposure.