Biden imposes new vaccine rules for international travel, lifts restrictions

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday signed an order imposing new vaccine requirements for most foreign air travelers and lifting tough travel restrictions on China, India and much of the world. ‘Europe as of November 8, the White House said.
The extraordinary travel restrictions in the United States were first imposed in early 2020 to deal with the spread of Covid-19. The rules ban most non-US citizens who have stayed in the last 14 days in Britain, Europe’s 26 Schengen countries without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, in Iran and Brazil.
“It is in the interest of the United States to move away from the country-by-country restrictions previously applied during the Covid-19 pandemic and to adopt an air transport policy that relies mainly on vaccination to advance the recovery in safe international air travel. in the United States, ”says Biden’s proclamation.
The White House has confirmed that children under 18 are exempt from the new vaccine requirements, as are people with medical conditions. Non-tourist travelers from nearly 50 countries with nationwide vaccination rates below 10% will also be eligible for exemption from the rules. People with an exemption will generally need to be vaccinated within 60 days of arriving in the United States.
These countries include Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, Armenia, Myanmar, Iraq, Nicaragua, Senegal, Uganda, Libya, Ethiopia, Zambia, Congo, Kenya , Yemen, Haiti, Chad and Madagascar.
The White House first revealed on September 20 that it would remove restrictions in early November for fully vaccinated air travelers from 33 countries.
“Families and friends can meet again, tourists can visit our incredible monuments. This policy will further stimulate economic recovery,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.
The Biden administration also detailed the requirements airlines must follow to confirm that foreign travelers have been vaccinated before boarding flights to the United States.
One of the concerns of U.S. officials and airlines is making sure foreign travelers are aware of the new vaccine rules that will come into effect in just two weeks, as well as unvaccinated Americans who will face stricter testing rules.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday released new contact tracing rules requiring airlines to collect information from international air passengers, such as phone numbers, email addresses and U.S. addresses, and keep them for 30 days in case they need to “follow up with travelers who have been exposed to variants of Covid-19 or other pathogens.”
The CDC said this month it would accept any vaccine cleared for use by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization and accept mixed-dose coronavirus vaccines from travelers.
This list leaves out the Sputnik vaccine which was widely used by Latin American countries.
In Mexico, the government has announced plans to use its 24 million doses of Sputnik to inoculate nearly 9% of the population. A Biden administration official said Monday that some other major vaccines “will be under review as data on the performance of these vaccines becomes available through a regulatory process.”
The Transportation Security Administration plans to issue a safety directive that provides the legal basis for airlines implementing vaccine requirements. The attestation form states that it is a crime for air travelers to lie about vaccination status.
The CDC has said there are no religious exemptions for international travelers seeking to avoid Covid-19 requirements.
Foreign air travelers will need to provide vaccination documentation from an “official source” and airlines must confirm that the last dose was at least two weeks before the date of travel.
International air travelers will need to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test performed within three days of departure. The White House has said unvaccinated Americans and foreign nationals with exemptions will need to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test within one day of leaving.
The Biden administration plans to release details of its parallel plans to lift restrictions at land border crossings on November 8 for foreign nationals who are vaccinated later this week.


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