The US government is finally relaxing its Covid travel restrictions, ending an 18-month ban on UK and EU passengers. It was the first time that the country has eased any of its Covid rules since they were put into place in March 2017, following a series of terrorist attacks. The decision to end the ban comes after President Trump had previously stated his desire for a “stronger” air security system.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stated that it would be lifting multiple Covid restrictions “in response to progress made by the UK government on aviation security”. The changes include increasing passenger capacity for under-18s travelling without an adult to 50kg, allowing devices with a battery life of more than 30 minutes in the cabin, and dropping the requirement that passengers carry a second form of ID when travelling within Europe.
Under the previous Covid requirements, no device with a battery life of over 30 minutes was allowed in the cabin on flights from North Africa and Turkey to the US, but today’s changes dropped this restriction for EU countries. The DHS also stated that airlines operating to the US are “required to adopt these same requirements for flights to the United States”.
The measures will come into force on April 30, 2019. The DHS said that its decision was based on a review process following Thursday’s announcement by Theresa May that she would seek to delay Brexit beyond April 12 if MPs failed to approve her deal with Brussels.
“The United States is committed to ensuring the security of citizens worldwide and has been actively cooperating and working closely with the European Union, Member States, and air carriers to enhance aviation security,” a DHS spokesperson said. “DHS continues to employ risk-based, common sense security measures consistent with international standards and our law enforcement partnerships.”
The DHS added that “the overriding priority of all air travel is the safety and security of passengers, crew, and aircraft”, adding that it would continue to work with airlines on international standards. The move means that EU citizens who had previously been refused entry into the US are now cleared to fly.
Last month, a report compiled by the United Nations said that Covid had improved on security measures at airports and the number of travelled passengers were on the rise, but it still expressed concern over future terrorist attacks.
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