U.S. to ease travel restrictions for fully vaccinated foreigners

The U.S. will require that most adult foreigners be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the country as part of a plan to ease some pandemic travel restrictions, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The measures, to be announced by President Joe Biden’s administration on Monday, amount to a sweeping reform of strict entry rules imposed on visitors to the U.S. to try to curb the spread of the virus. The person asked not to be identified ahead of the announcement.

The new rules will take effect in November, according to the Financial Times, which reported the changes earlier, citing people familiar with the matter.

The U.S. will also relax entry rules for vaccinated travelers from the U.K. and European Union, a measure that will spur a rebound in trans-Atlantic travel.

That move is a significant easing of pandemic travel restrictions that Biden held in place as infections spread throughout the country this summer, driven by the Delta variant of the virus, even as U.S. vaccination levels continued to inch upwards.

IAG SA, parent of transatlantic specialist British Airways, gained almost 12% after the FT report, the most in 10 months, while Air France-KLM rose as much as 7% and Deutsche Lufthansa AG advanced 7.5%.

European network carriers in particular rely on U.S. flights to generate earnings after losing market share to discount operators and high-speed trains on short-haul routes.

The U.S. currently bars direct entry to people who aren’t citizens or permanent residents if they’ve been within the Schengen area of Europe or the U.K. within the past 14 days, regardless of vaccination status.

The White House declined to immediately comment on the FT report. 

—With assistance from Christopher Jasper.

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