ORLANDO, Fla. — For more than a year, Lorraine Hutchinson has been waiting for the White House’s announcement Friday that it will soon allow fully vaccinated international travelers to enter the United States.
Under the new policy, fully vaccinated international travelers who have taken a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to their flight will be able to enter the U.S., as long as they share information for contact tracing, according to an official.
What You Need To Know
- Europeans eager to visit Florida again as U.S. travel restrictions eased
- Fully vaccinated people from 30 countries can come to U.S. starting Nov. 8
- They also must have a negative COVID test 72 hours before travel
- The timing of the announcement may affect travel for some in the near future
The move impacts travelers from more than 30 nations, including Brazil, China and most of Europe.
International visitors represent a strong share of tourists, and income, for Florida.
Visit Florida data shows in 2019, 131.4 million people visited Florida, including 10.9 million from overseas, and another 3.6 million from Canada.
Hutchinson, of Nottingham, England, said her family has visited Central Florida once or twice a year, every year, since 1998.
“For us, it’s the land of dreams, and I totally become a little girl again when I’m in the middle of Disney, or Universal, or SeaWorld,” Hutchinson said.
She described the past two years as “heartbreaking” as her family has awaited word for travel restrictions to be lifted.
With friends in Merritt Island, and family in Tampa, Hutchinson said she is eager to get back to Central Florida, where her family also owns a second home.
A full-time healthcare worker, Hutchinson said her family spends several weeks in Central Florida at a time, spending thousands on flights, car rentals, food and trips on cruises and theme parks.
Her hopes of returning sooner rather than later, however, appear bleak.
Her family spent more than $4,000 last year to book tickets on TUI airline for a November 2021 trip. Just before the White House’s announcement, TUI canceled its seasonal nonstop service between the UK and Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) until March 2022.
Virgin Atlantic told Spectrum News Friday the airline will relaunch its nonstop service routes between Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Manchester and London Heathrow beginning Monday, Nov. 8, 2021.
British Airways has yet to release when it will restore nonstop service between Orlando and Tampa international airports and the UK as it had scheduled in the past. British Airways’ website does not list any nonstop flights between Florida and the UK on Nov. 8, as of yet.
The timing of the White House’s announcement might prove to be a costly one.
The Hutchinson family is having to push off a trip to Florida to when flights are more widely available. The time and money they planned to spend next month will now be spent on a trip elsewhere in Europe.