United States details new COVID-19 international travel requirements
WASHINGTON (AP) Children under 18 and people in dozens of countries with vaccine shortages will be exempt from new rules that will require most travelers to the United States to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the company said. Biden administration.
The government said on Monday it would require airlines to collect contact details of passengers, whether or not they have been vaccinated to help with contact tracing, if that becomes necessary.
Beginning November 8, non-immigrant foreign adults traveling to the United States will need to be fully immunized, with a few exceptions, and all travelers will need to be tested for the virus before boarding a plane bound for the United States. United States. restrictions for U.S. citizens and foreigners who are not fully immunized.
The new policy comes as the Biden administration moves away from restrictions that ban non-essential travel from several dozen countries, most of Europe, China, Brazil, South Africa, India and Iran and instead focuses on classifying individuals based on the risk they pose to others.
It also reflects the White House’s adherence to vaccination requirements as a tool to push more Americans to get vaccinated by making it embarrassing to stay unvaccinated.
Under the policy, people vaccinated will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of travel, while unvaccinated people must show a test taken within one day of travel.
Children under 18 will not be required to be fully immunized due to delays in their vaccine eligibility in many locations. They will still need to take a COVID-19 test unless they are 2 years old or younger.
Other people who will be exempt from the vaccination requirement include people who have participated in COVID-19 clinical trials, who have had severe allergic reactions to vaccines, or who come from a country where vaccines are not widely available. available.
The latter category will cover people from countries with vaccination rates below 10% of adults. They can be admitted to the United States with a government letter authorizing travel for a compelling reason and not just for tourism, a senior administration official said. The official estimated that there are around 50 such countries.
The United States will accept any vaccine approved for regular or emergency use by the United States Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. This includes the Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Chinas Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. Mixing and pairing of approved shots will be permitted.
The Biden administration has been working with the airlines, which will be required to apply the new procedures. Airlines will be required to verify vaccination records and compare them to identity information.
Quarantine officers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will screen passengers arriving in the United States on site to ensure compliance, according to an administration official. Airlines that do not enforce the requirements could be subject to penalties of up to $ 35,000 per violation.
The new rules will replace restrictions that began in January 2020, when President Donald Trump banned most non-U.S. Citizens from China. The Trump administration has extended this to cover Brazil, Iran, the UK, Ireland, and most of mainland Europe. President Joe Biden left those bans in place and extended them to South Africa and India.
Biden has come under pressure from European allies to drop the restrictions, especially after many European countries relaxed limits on American visitors.
The United States is open for business with all the promise and potential America has to offer, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said after Monday’s announcement.
The leading trade group in the US airline industry has welcomed the administration’s decision.
We have seen an increase in ticket sales for international travel over the past few weeks and look forward to safely starting to reunite the countless families, friends and colleagues who have not seen each other for nearly two years or more. Airlines for America said in a statement.
The pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions have caused international travel to plunge. U.S. and foreign airlines plan to operate around 14,000 flights across the Atlantic this month, just over half of the 29,000 flights they operated in October 2019, according to company data. of Cirium aeronautical research.
Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst in San Francisco, said lifting country-specific restrictions would help, but would be tempered by vaccination and testing requirements.
Anyone who hopes for an explosion of inbound international visitors will be disappointed, he said. November 8 will mark the start of the recovery in international travel to the United States, but I don’t think we see a full recovery until 2023 at the earliest.
The Biden administration has not proposed a vaccination requirement for domestic travel, which airlines fiercely oppose, saying it would be impractical given the large number of passengers who fly to the United States every day. .
This version corrects that Gina Raimondo is Secretary of Commerce.
Koenig reported from Dallas.
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