Biden formalizes new vaccinated travel policy; Guam to focus on expats, dual citizens

United Airlines (PNC file photo)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued orders to implement the new travel policy announced by the Biden administration to safely resume global travel to the United States while protecting the health and safety of American communities from COVID-19. The orders put in place a stringent and consistent global international travel policy that is guided by public health.

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According to the CDC, today’s announcement by the Biden administration means that on November 8, non-U.S. citizens who are not immigrants to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their vaccination status to fly to the United States. There will be very limited exceptions to this vaccination requirement for certain non-U.S. citizens who are not immigrants, including children under the age of 18.

The Guam Visitors Bureau had planned to ask Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to lobby the Biden administration for a Guam exemption to the president’s vaccinated travel directive.

The problem with the new Biden vaccinated policy is that it may adversely affect Guam’s already struggling “Air V&V” program, which precisely seeks to attract the unvaccinated to come to Guam and get vaccinated. However, GVB pointed out that its original target markets for the “Air V&V” program were American expatriates and those with dual citizenship.

Under the new Biden travel policy, fully vaccinated air passengers, regardless of citizenship, will continue to be required to show a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before they board their flight to the United States. For passengers who are not fully vaccinated, the rules will tighten to require a test taken no more than one day before departing to the United States.

All air passengers to the United States will also be required to provide basic contact information to airlines before boarding flights to the United States. This will allow airlines to better coordinate with public health agencies to share information when needed to keep the public safe and informed, and strengthen their ability to rapidly identify and contact people in the U.S. who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, such as COVID-19.

According to GVB president Carl Gutierrez, with the increase of vaccination rates in Guam’s major source markets, GVB is hopeful that the world is transitioning to the next normal and is ready to welcome our visitors back to our island.

“With programs such as Air V&V, we are hopeful that Governor Lou Leon Guerrero will prevail in the request to continue the program for the non-U.S. citizens. However, our original target is the expatriates and those with dual citizenship. Visitors from the Philippines and other parts of Asia continue to arrive in Guam and praise the Air V&V program, giving us free earned media in their various countries,” Gutierrez said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

According to the CDC, both the U.S. government and the airline industry are committed to making this process as seamless as possible for the traveling public. These travel requirements will be effective for air travel to the United States from any foreign country at or after 12:01AM ET on November 8, 2021.

Further guidance on the very limited exceptions to these vaccination requirements, what constitutes acceptable proof of vaccination, and other operational details are available on CDC’s website.