Fully vaccinated South Africans can travel to the US from today – with a negative test

Business Insider SA

Travel to United States
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  • Travel between South Africa and the United States has been severely disrupted throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • But from Monday, fully vaccinated travellers will be allowed to enter the United States, regardless of where they’re coming from.
  • Travellers will still need to provide a negative Covid-19 test result before departing.
  • Children under 18 can enter even if they’re not fully vaccinated but will be subject to further testing and self-quarantine.
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The United States (US) reopened to fully vaccinated South African travellers on Monday, with specific rules on pre-flight testing and exemptions for children.

Travel between South Africa and the US has been limited throughout the pandemic. An outright ban was imposed on travellers from South Africa at the start of 2021, with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) citing the Beta variant, first detected in the Eastern Cape, as the main cause for concern.

South Africa wasn’t alone on the US’ travel ban list. Travellers from the European Union, Britain and China, India, and Brazil were also restricted, save for some very specific exemptions under the US’ National Interest Exception (NIE) programme.

A new Presidential Proclamation issued at the end of October scrapped country-based restrictions and, instead, put the emphasis on vaccination. The order came into effect on Monday, allowing fully vaccinated travellers, regardless of their departure point, entry into the US.

Travellers are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving the last dose of their two-dose course, like the Pfizer jab, or single-dose, like the one produced by Johnson & Johnson (J&J). Both vaccines, currently in use in South Africa, are authorised by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Proof of Covid-19 vaccination will also need to be provided. South Africa’s recently launched digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate is accepted as a digital record issued by a “public health agency, government agency, or other authorised vaccine provider.”

Physical vaccination cards will also be accepted as proof and must contain personal identifiers, the name of the official source issuing the record, the vaccine manufacturer, and date of vaccination.

Fully vaccinated travellers are still required to show a negative Covid-19 viral test, like a RT-PCR, result on a sample taken no more than 3 days before the flight’s departure.

Children under 18 years of age don’t need to be fully vaccinated to enter the US but will need to provide a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 24-hours of departure. These children will, additionally, be retested 3 to 5 days after arriving in the US and are required to self-quarantine for a week.

Other travellers exempt from the vaccination rule include persons on diplomatic or official foreign government travel and those with documented medical contraindications to receiving a Covid-19 vaccine.

South Africans looking for the quickest way to the US can fly directly from Johannesburg to Newark, New Jersey, with United Airlines. Delta Air Lines also offers direct flights between OR Tambo International Airport and Atlanta, with flight frequencies expected to increase in mid-December.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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