Restrictions lifted, fully vaccinated passengers from India soar into US skies

Aditya Garg traveled to San Francisco in the early hours of Monday, relieved to finally be able to return to work – and home – with the US government lifting travel restrictions for international travelers fully vaccinated against Covid.

The young man from Jaipur, who works for a California electric vehicle company, was among many present at Delhi airport on Monday morning, eager to get to the United States and board the first possible flight.

The coronavirus pandemic prompted the United States to close its borders to international travelers from many countries, including India, last year. Later, only passengers with visas belonging to certain categories were allowed to travel.

Starting today, November 8, the United States lifted all restrictions on fully vaccinated international travelers, including from India, but they will have to show proof of a negative coronavirus test before to embark on a flight to the country.

Garg, who took a United Airlines flight scheduled to depart at 4:30 a.m., said he last traveled to the United States before the pandemic-induced lockdown in March last year.

“I work and stay in the Bay Area. It’s a relief that after such a long time I can fly to the United States, as US officials have relaxed restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers. Of course, we must always take every precaution, ”he said. told PTI before entering the international departure lounge.

Pritam Deshwal is also a professional based in the United States but was unable to travel from India due to restrictions.

The airport designer, who took an Air India flight to the United States, said: “I am based in New York, and the new lifting of restrictions on travelers will definitely help reconnect to our offices and locations. , literally. ”

Since the outbreak of the pandemic last year, most businesses and institutions have allowed employees to work from home, with digital technology playing an important role in helping colleagues stay connected in a ‘new normal’ scenario.

Many passengers to the United States, including women, said their vaccination status had boosted their confidence.

“I am taking my first international flight after the outbreak of the pandemic. I feel good,” said a passenger who declined to be named.

Among those who took flights to the United States were the Miami-based Vij brothers.

“I am an American citizen so there were no restrictions for me as such, but I am happy that more people can now travel to the United States,” said Siddhant Vij, who flew to Qatar. Airways with his brother Shivek.

U.S. business executive Brad Nuss, who lives in Minnesota, flew to his home country on Monday and hopes a sense of normalcy in international travel will return soon.

“The pandemic has changed our world and the way we see it and interact with others. And, with the resumption of vaccination in India and elsewhere, and the lifting of travel restrictions by the United States, I think it is ‘is a sign that things are slowly returning to normal in a way, “Nuss told PTI before boarding a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight.

At the airport, as family members said goodbye to each other, many were overcome with emotion as they kissed, some taking the obligatory selfie to mark the occasion.

The White House said late last month that the United States would lift all travel restrictions on inbound non-citizen and non-immigrant travelers starting November 8, with a few exceptions. They will need to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination before boarding a flight to the country.

Passengers will need to show their vaccination status, and airlines will need to match name and date of birth to confirm the passenger is the same person reflected on proof of vaccination, according to an official statement released earlier.

Regular international passenger services have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. But special international flights have been operating under bilateral “air bubble” agreements with around 28 countries since July 2020.

As part of an air bubble pact between two countries, limited special international flights may be operated by their airlines between their territories with certain restrictions.

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