Biden administration to require foreign travelers to be vaccinated to enter U.S.

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September 20, 20210

The Biden administration is preparing to ease travel restrictions for vaccinated foreign nationals traveling to the United States, the White House announced Monday, rolling back a blanket ban on travel for non-U.S. citizens imposed by the Trump administration. But it also means unvaccinated foreign nationals who have been able to come to the U.S. will not be able to in the near future.

Under the new policy from the Biden administration, which will begin in November, foreign nationals flying to the U.S. must be fully vaccinated and show proof of vaccination before boarding a plane, Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, told reporters. They will also have to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within three days of traveling.

Fully vaccinated international travelers will not be required to quarantine upon their arrival in the U.S.

“This follows the science,” Zients said. “Requiring passengers to be fully vaccinated, we will protect Americans here at home.”

Unvaccinated Americans returning to the U.S. from abroad will need to show proof of a negative test taken within 24 hours of travel.

As part of the new international air travel system, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require airlines to collect phone numbers and email addresses from inbound international travels as part of an enhanced contact tracing system. The CDC will also determine which vaccines will be accepted under the new policy.

The new requirements don’t affect land travel from Canada and Mexico, which is still restricted.

“We do not have any updates to the land border policies at this point,” Zients said.

The move from the Biden administration comes 18 months after former President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would be restricting travel for foreign nationals coming from much of Europe, the United Kingdom, China, Brazil and other countries in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The prohibitions remained in place when President Biden took office in January, and the White House said in July it would maintain the restrictions due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, which drove a rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

Mr. Biden is scheduled to travel to New York on Monday afternoon for the United Nations General Assembly.

Margaret Brennan contributed to this report.

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