The World Series of Poker is fast approaching and, this year, US COVID entry requirements have changed for international players. What are they? CardsChat has the answers …
COVID-19 stopped play in 2020 and hampered the proceedings last year. Now, with the majority of countries around the world dropping their restrictions, this year’s festival is back to normal.
Although there are some lingering safety measures, US borders and, more importantly, the 2022 WSOP, are open to almost anyone who wants to play.
US entry requirements for vaxxed travelers
If you’re planning a trip to the WSOP in Las Vegas, the current travel requirements, as outlined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are:
- Non-US citizens can enter the US if they’ve been fully vaccinated and have official documents proving their vaccination status.
Fully vaccinated means having the maximum number of “primary series” doses. Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen is a one-shot COVID vaccine. The two-shot vaccines permitted by the CDC are AstraZeneca, BIBP/Sinopharm, Covishield, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Sinovac. Anyone who’s received two doses of those vaccines (and boosters, if required) at least two weeks prior to traveling is considered fully vaccinated.
- Non-US citizens who aren’t vaccinated won’t be granted access unless they have a special waiver. These waivers are only provided on exceptional grounds, such as religious beliefs.
Everyone who’s permitted to enter the US (i.e,. the vaccinated) will also have to do the following before they travel:
- Take a COVID-19 test no more than one day before traveling. Evidence of a negative test must be shown before you board a flight. Alternatively, proof that you’ve recovered from COVID-19 (i.e., you have antibodies) within the last 90 days can, in most cases, be used instead of a negative test result.
- Before boarding, travelers must provide their airline with their contact information for their time in the US.
In addition to the new US COVID entry guidelines, you’ll have to complete any standard Visa requirements, such as an ESTA.
Mask mandates and WSOP COVID rules
One notable change that WSOP players will notice on their way to Vegas is the lack of masks on their planes. Following a court ruling on April 18, face masks are no longer required on flights into or within the US. As such, CDC guidelines have changed and airlines won’t be enforcing this rule for people flying to the US.
The same holds true once you’ve reached Vegas as face masks aren’t required in the State of Nevada. That means you can enter poker rooms, including those being used by the WSOP, without a mask. The relaxation of rules regarding face masks coincides with the removal of vaccine certificates. The WSOP won’t require players attending this year’s series to be vaccinated.
That’s a major departure from the rules used between September and November last year. The delayed live event in Las Vegas was bound by CDC and state COVID guidelines, which meant only the vaccinated could play.
That requirement sparked debates online, with a number of high-profile players, including Alex Foxen, boycotting the WSOP in protest. The backlash didn’t significantly reduce the number of players who took part in last year’s WSOP, nor did the fact that international travelers were blocked from entering the US until the latter part of the Series.
WSOP COVID-19 checklist
Based on last year’s numbers and the lack of restrictions this time around, the 2022 WSOP looks set to attract another bumper crowd. For those booking flights into the US, the three main things to remember are:
- Make sure you’re fully vaccinated and have proof.
- Provide your airline with a negative COVID test taken no more than one day before you travel.
- Complete a passenger locator/contact form before you board the plane.
Do those things and you’ll be free to enjoy this year’s WSOP in Las Vegas from May 31 to July 19.