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Biden Administration Planning to Require Foreign Travelers to Be Vaccinated

Biden Administration Planning to Require Foreign Travelers to Be Vaccinated
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Biden Administration Planning to Require Foreign Travelers to Be Vaccinated

Biden Administration Planning to Require Foreign Travelers to Be Vaccinated

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration is making plans to require all foreign travelers to the United States to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, with a few exceptions, according to an administration official with knowledge of the developing policy.

The plan, reported earlier by Reuters, will be part of a new system that will be put in place after the current restrictions on travel to the country are lifted, but officials have not yet determined when it could be done.

President Biden has been under pressure for months to ease restrictions on people wishing to travel to the United States, especially as other countries, including Britain and Canada, are relaxing their measures.

But White House officials have said in recent days that there are no plans to lift current restrictions anytime soon, in light of the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

“Given where we are today with the Delta variant, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

White House officials reiterated this position on Wednesday evening, saying there was no timetable yet to require foreign travelers to be vaccinated.

An official, who was not authorized to give details of the plan to the public, said in an email that the new system will include a phased approach over time.

Travelers from Iran, China, Brazil, Great Britain, South Africa, India, Ireland and the European Schengen area – covering 29 countries, city-states and micro- States – are currently banned from entering the United States unless they are U.S. citizens or spend 14 days before arriving in a country that is not on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Airlines and other businesses have long called on the administration to lift or ease restrictions on foreign travelers to the United States, especially after much of Europe has started to open up. to US visitors in June.

“The international markets that American vaccinated travelers can go to, particularly in southern Europe, we have had a very strong interest in bookings,” said Ed Bastian, managing director of Delta Air Lines last month, according to the Financial Times. “The problem is, these markets are only one-sided. The White House is specifically unwilling to open up the US market to European or UK travelers, which is a source of frustration. “

While travel to the United States over the past week fell only about 14% from 2019, international travel remains down about 40%, according to Airlines for America, a trade association.

The United States began restricting foreign travel in January 2020, when President Donald J. Trump halted some travel from China in hopes of preventing the spread of the virus. This effort has largely failed.

But health officials urged the Trump administration to extend travel bans to much of Europe during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, and more countries have been added to the ban because the original virus and several variants spread rapidly from country to country. the country.

This week, the Biden administration said it would keep Title 42, a public health rule that allows the government to turn back people attempting to enter the United States from its southern border.

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The move, confirmed by the CDC on Monday, amounted to a change from the administration, which was working on plans to begin lifting the rule this summer, more than a year after it was imposed by the Trump administration.

The known total of coronavirus infections worldwide topped 200 million on Wednesday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, a number fueled by the emergence of the Delta variant.

Niraj Chokshi contributed reports.

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