When U.S. borders open to foreign travelers on Nov. 8, the country will have lifted one of the longest-standing restrictions imposed 19 months ago at the start of the pandemic, signaling a new phase of guarded optimism in the nation’s battle with Covid-19.

With the Delta variant surge easing and vaccinations opening to more age groups, many places are dropping mask mandates or other restrictions on vaccinated people. The pullback represents a bet that the most recent surge could be the last.

San Francisco recently eased mask mandates for offices, gyms and other places where fewer than 100 people gather and proof of vaccination is required. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he is hoping to ease some mask requirements for the holidays as long as case numbers continue to fall. Hawaii will begin to welcome visitors Nov. 1 after asking them in August to voluntarily delay their trips.


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