Despite reopening, the US is still closed to many in world

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US says it is inviting the global community to come now as government ends restrictions on travelers from 33 countries

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NEW YORK – The US says it is inviting the global community to come now, while the government has ban ended On passengers from 33 countries.

In reality, however, it would still be difficult – if not impossible – for much of the world to enter the country and experts say it would take years for the trip to fully recover.

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For starters, half the world no vaccine and therefore does not meet the US requirement for visiting foreigners. So while many Europeans may now be able to come from poor countries Where Vaccines Are Rare stay cut off, with Limited exceptions.

For some public health experts, that raises ethical questions about policy.

“The concern is not limiting access based on vaccination status,” said Nancy Kaas, deputy director of public health at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University. “It is that it is systematically making it impossible for people, typically from poor countries, whose governments have been unable to secure anything near supplies, to see their loved ones.”

Even if you’ve got the jab, it might not be good enough. Nonimmigrant adults need to receive vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration or who have received an emergency use list from the World Health Organization, otherwise they are also Forbidden That separates anyone who receives Russia’s Sputnik V or the China-made CanSino jab from entering the US.

Then in some places there is a delay of months in getting the visa. The US Travel Association says there is a visitor visa appointment backlog for an average of six months as many US consulates and embassies have yet to resume normal operations. Meanwhile, other countries have their own strict rules, which complicate travel abroad.

Experts expect a wave of passengers at US airports, which will go a long way in boosting the overall industry. The US Travel Association says the 28 European countries that were banned under US policy as of Monday accounted for 37% of foreign visitors in 2019.

Travelport, which analyzes airline booking data, says the largest number of international travelers to the US since mid-2020 have come from Latin America, by region, but new travelers have been booking flights since late September. when the Biden administration said it would end. There are travel restrictions, mainly European. NS reopening land borders with Canada And Mexico should also help restore travel, as they are generally the top two sources of international visitors to the US.

But the US Travel Association predicted in June that international travel would not return to the 2024 level of about 80 million visitors until 2019. The number of foreign travelers declined to 19 million in 2020 and is expected to increase somewhat this year to over 26 million; This will more than double in 2022, to about 57 million, but still far short of its pre-pandemic height.

The US is not alone in trying to start the journey as more people are vaccinated. Some countries have closed their borders, such as Australia, India and Thailand, Europe opened its doors to Americans months ago.

Others, such as China and Japan remain under lockdown, making it difficult for their own citizens to leave and return because of the mandatory quarantine. In 2019, the two countries were among the top five largest sources of foreign visitors to the US, along with the UK, South Korea and Brazil, according to US government data.

Sylvia Lee, who is from China and lives in the US, married her partner a few weeks ago in a small ceremony in New York without her family because she didn’t know when they would be able to come or go to China.

“I was able to convince them, it’s really nothing, it’s just a party,” Lee said. But his mother did not budge for it. “I think my mom thought she was missing. She felt like she was missing something really big.”

Edgar Orozco, who owns two restaurants in El Paso, Texas, both called Chelito, was excited about the reopening of the land border with Mexico on Monday, and he hopes it will lighten the streets of downtown El Paso. Shoppers – and customers – will help fill up. Restaurants – this holiday season, unlike last year, when they said the streets were empty.

“Now that non-essential travelers are going to be able to come back, we are looking forward to going back to those good old days,” he said.

But they have heard of people who have visa problems, such as a seller in Mexico who says he cannot renew his visa until 2023. appointment waiting time According to the State Department, there are 676 days, or about two years, for a US visitor visa in Cuidad Juarez, just across the border of El Paso.

In New York, the nation’s biggest tourist destination, businesses are gearing up for more international travelers. Hudson Yards, a shopping complex, is expanding its concierge services to include a wider range of foreign languages. City Experiences, a tour company that sends ferries to the Statue of Liberty and other sites, is expanding marketing overseas.

Over the past two weeks, 75% of new bookings at Manhattan’s three Moxie hotels have come from Europe, mostly from the United Kingdom, Spain, France and Germany, said Michelle Hochberg, president of the hotel’s operator, Lightstone.

Still, Hochberg thinks it will take at least until spring for international bookings to return to their pre-pandemic levels.

“Travel can be cumbersome,” he said. “Flights are limited now.”

Concerns about having COVID-19 are also weighing on travel plans for many people, even if they are now allowed in.

Mahek Khera doesn’t want her parents in India to visit her in Santa Clara, California, even though they can now – she’s vaccinated and has a visa. But the risk of getting sick is very high. Her father has heart disease, and he doesn’t have health insurance in the US

“We don’t feel comfortable adding another risk on top of that,” Khera said. “They don’t feel very excited to travel.”

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