The Biden-Harris Administration announced on May 1, 2023, that it will end the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for federal employees, government contractors, and international travelers on May 11, 2023. At the same time, the public health emergency declared in 2020 for the COVID-19 pandemic will end on that date.
The U.S. was one of the first countries to implement full COVID-19 vaccination coverage for travelers beginning in November 2021 due to the pandemic. Other countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand had taken similar measures early on to protect their borders from the virus, but these had lifted the vaccination proof requirement earlier. Despite great pressure from business, politics and the tourism industry, the Biden administration remained true to its course. If in June 2022 still the test obligation fell with the entry, falls now also still the last Corona travel hurdle.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will also now begin to adjust their vaccination requirements in certain areas.
"While vaccinations remain one of the most important tools for promoting worker health and safety and workplace efficiency, we are now in a different phase where these measures are no longer necessary," an official White House statement said.
The lifting of the vaccination requirement is intended to help ease restrictions on international travel. Previously, COVID-19 vaccination records were a requirement for many travelers to enter the United States. Exemptions for unvaccinated individuals were heavily regulated.
As of May 12, 2023, all persons (COVID-19 vaccinated or unvaccinated) will once again be able to enter the United States without restriction - by land, sea, or air, whether on visa or visa-exempt entry (ESTA). Please note, however, that the basic immigration law entry requirements are, of course, still in effect.
The decision to eliminate proof of vaccination for travelers to the U.S. was made after careful consideration and in light of the current COVID-19 situation. The U.S. government believes that the current vaccination and testing requirements for travelers are sufficient to protect public health and, because of high vaccination rates worldwide, the risk of new viral variants is decreasing.
Details on the implementation of the lifting of the vaccination requirement will be announced in the coming days.
When the first reports of a novel coronavirus from China emerged in January 2020, no one imagined the devastating wave the disease would cause in the United States. The disease spread rapidly, and it wasn't long before the first infections appeared in the U.S. as well, leading in a very short time to one of the most severe health crises in U.S. history.
In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 a global pandemic.
The U.S. government responded quickly with travel restrictions, border closures, and social distancing recommendations. Other measures included school and business closures, curfews, and a masking requirement-but these varied widely by U.S. state. The lockdown had serious economic consequences.
Infections had recurrent wave-like outbreaks between 2020 and 2021, with sharply rising numbers that led to an overload of the entire disease system. In some cases, even more devastating waves of infections occurred after each relaxation of measures by U.S. states.
In December 2020, the first vaccines were licensed and the U.S. government launched one of the largest vaccination campaigns in history. The U.S. has administered more than 270 million doses of vaccine to date, which has helped reduce COVID-19 deaths by 95 percent and hospitalizations by nearly 91 percent since January 2021.
Between December 2021 and February 2022, the largest COVID-19 infection wave in the United States occurred, with up to 6 million new infections per week.
Three years after the pandemic outbreak, the United States is now returning to normalcy with the end of the public health emergency.
While the lifting of the final Corona measures is viewed by many quarters as a long overdue step, there are also potential risks associated with ending the vaccination verification requirement.
This could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases, especially in U.S. areas with low vaccination rates. Without vaccination verification, it could also become more difficult to control Corona infections in certain settings, such as U.S. health care and education.
Far greater impact than the change in travel regulations, however, could be the removal of emergency status in its entirety on the U.S. population-particularly for the health insurance sector:
Many Americans:inside who lost their jobs during the pandemic could lose their access to affordable health insurance. Unemployment is still high in the U.S. and many people rely on affordable health insurance, which was made available during the pandemic through the Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare) or Medicaid. During the pandemic, for example, it was easier for people with pre-existing conditions who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 to obtain insurance. Without emergency status, however, it could be more difficult for these people.
The elimination of proof of vaccination for travelers is expected to have a particularly positive impact on the travel industry, which was hit hard by the pandemic's restrictions. Travelers who were previously unable to travel to the U.S. due to vaccination restrictions will now finally be able to visit their families and friends, explore vacation destinations, or even attend business meetings again with the appropriate visa or ESTA as of May 12, 2023.
Overall, the abolition of the vaccination certificate for travelers to the USA is a positive development for the travel industry and travelers worldwide.
Updated on 3.5.2023
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