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DHS Lifts Airport Restriction for Travelers Exempt from COVID Travel Bans

Effective today, air travelers who are permitted to travel to the United States despite the COVID-19 public health bans in place for Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, the European Schengen Area, and the United Kingdom, are no longer limited to entering the United States at one of 15 designated airports. These travelers may now enter the country though any U.S. international airport, according to an official notice from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration.

The government announcement does not end the COVID-19 travel restrictions. Though passengers may now travel through any U.S. international airport if they have overcome one of the country-specific COVID public health bans, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states that it will still implement an illness reporting system and passenger education process, along with other public health measures in tandem with the airline industry.


Starting in January, in response to the COVID-19 emergency, a series of presidential proclamations banned travel to the United States for those physically present (including transit through an airport) in one of the above countries within 14 days of attempted entry to United States. 

Travelers who were exempt from the ban, including U.S. citizens and green card holders, as well as those who met an exception (e.g., as a qualifying relative or person whose entry was deemed in the national interest) were permitted to enter the United States in spite of the ban, but only through one of 15 U.S. international airports equipped to screen for COVID-19.

Impact on air travelers

Travelers who are permitted to enter the United States despite having been physically present in one of the COVID-19 banned countries are now permitted to fly into any U.S. international airport and may undergo a more minimal public health screening. This change may assist with travel planning, but it does not change the parameters of the COVID-19 public health bans or the requirements for meeting ban exceptions.

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