ROMULUS, Mich. - It's been more than 20 months since the U.S. placed a ban on nonessential travel to international flyers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But at 8:30 a.m. Monday, the first flight from a foreign destination will land at Detroit Metro Airport as restrictions lift on dozens of countries.
It's the latest sign of slow by gradually improving conditions in the battle against the pandemic and a fight for public health as the U.S. lifts rules on more than 30 countries.
The goal is to restore more normal travel while limiting the spread of COVID-19, the government says. The travel industry and European allies have pushed for an end to country-specific bans.
Taking its place are vaccine status rules. Anyone who wants to visit the U.S. will need proof of being fully vaccinated and have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before flying.
There are some exceptions. Children under 18 will not need to fulfill the vaccine requirement as long they test negative. Kids age 2 and younger are exempt from the testing requirement.
The lift in rules includes most of Europe.
Since half the world remains unvaccinated, and vaccine distribution has been so skewed to rich countries, the Biden administration is leaving a loophole for people who live in countries where vaccines are scarce. That list includes about 50 countries where fewer than 10% of people have been vaccinated. Travelers from those countries will need permission from the U.S. government to come, and it can't be just for tourism or business travel.
The U.S. government says it will permit unvaccinated international visitors to enter the country if there is a humanitarian or emergency reason, such as an emergency medical evacuation. Those exceptions will be applied "extremely narrowly" and require approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There could also be a medical exception, with documentation from a doctor.