The US and UK governments have announced that travel to the US will restart for the general public and non-US residents from early November after almost 20 months. But what has changed and what is open to do in our favourite US state, Florida?
From this November passengers can travel to the USA from the UK and EU if they are fully vaccinated. Although the details are yet to be announced, the US chief Medical Advisor Dr Anthony Fauci has said that those with the Oxford AstraZeneca should also be included, even though the vaccine is not yet officially licensed in the US.
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There are also likely to be testing and contact tracing rules. On return, the US will by then be on the UK’s “green list”, which means there is no requirement for self-isolation or even the more expensive PCR tests.
Since March 2020 only American citizens and those with special visas could travel there from the UK and Ireland, but the new rules are expected to be in place by early November, well in time for Thanksgiving on 25 November.
Florida sees huge fall in cases
The sunshine state entered the autumn with new Covid-19 cases running at catastrophic levels – far higher than any other state. However, rates have since fallen to around 10,000 per day. While this still close to the higher than most states, the fall in cases and death rates has been spectacular. Fatalities have fallen by 90% in the space of a month to around 40 per day.
The fall in cases is mainly due to a huge and emotional campaign to vaccinate groups who had up to the summer been resistant. While overall just over half of Floridians were vaccinated, in some countries that was just 30%.
Another factor is that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine originally intended to be given as one dose, has proven highly effective as a second-dose booster.
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What’s open in Florida?
The people of Florida have been resistant to most anti-Covid measures, but business are open and free to trade as normal, at full capacity with no official rules on social distancing. Moreover, so are the theme parks, including DisneyWorld, Universal, SeaWorld and Legoland, although some require advance booking.
The Orange County government urges visitors to wear masks when indoors, even if vaccinated, but there is no rule.
Flights to the USA
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic currently have direct return flights to Orlando or Miami from £333 in December.