Wednesday, December 8

USA Details New COVID-19 International Travel Requirements

Children under the age of 18 and people in dozens of countries with vaccine shortages will be exempt from the new rules that will require the majority of travelers to the United States to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the Biden administration announced.

The government said Monday that it will require airlines to collect contact information from passengers regardless of whether they have been vaccinated to help with contact tracing, if necessary.

Beginning November 8, nonimmigrant foreign adults traveling to the United States will need to be fully vaccinated, with only limited exceptions, and all travelers will need to be tested for the virus before boarding a plane to the United States. restrictions for US citizens and foreigners who are not fully vaccinated.

The new policy comes as the Biden administration moves away from restrictions prohibiting non-essential travel from several dozen countries (most of Europe, China, Brazil, South Africa, India, and Iran) and instead focuses on classifying. people for the risk they pose to them. others.

It also reflects the White House’s acceptance of vaccination requirements as a tool to pressure more Americans to receive vaccines by making it inconvenient to remain unvaccinated.

Under the policy, those who are vaccinated must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of travel, while those not vaccinated must present a test taken within one day of travel.

Children under the age of 18 will not be required to be fully vaccinated due to delays in making them eligible for vaccines in many places. They will still need to take a COVID-19 test unless they are 2 years old or younger.

Others who will be exempt from the vaccination requirement include people who participated in COVID-19 clinical trials, who had severe allergic reactions to vaccines, or who are from a country where vaccines are not widely available.

This last category will cover people from countries with vaccination rates below 10% of adults. They may be admitted to the United States with a government letter authorizing travel for a compelling reason and not just tourism, a senior administration official said. The official estimated that there are about 50 such countries.

The US will accept any vaccine approved for regular or emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. That includes Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines from China. Combination and combination of approved shots will be allowed.

The Biden administration has been working with the airlines, who will be asked to enforce the new procedures. Airlines will need to verify vaccination records and match them with identity information.

Quarantine officers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will randomly screen passengers arriving in the US for compliance, according to an administration official. Airlines that fail to enforce the requirements could be subject to fines of up to nearly $ 35,000 (€ 30,000) per violation.

The new rules will replace restrictions that began in January 2020, when President Donald Trump banned most non-US citizens from China. The Trump administration expanded that to cover Brazil, Iran, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and most of continental Europe. President Joe Biden left those bans in place and expanded them to South Africa and India.

Biden came under pressure from European allies to remove the restrictions, particularly after many European countries relaxed limits on American visitors.

“America is open for business with all the promise and potential America has to offer,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said after Monday’s announcement.

The main trade group in the US airline industry praised the administration’s decision.

“We have seen an increase in international travel ticket sales over the past few weeks, and we are eager to begin safely reuniting the countless families, friends and colleagues who have not seen each other in nearly two years, if not more.” , Airlines for America said in a statement.

The pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions have caused international travel to plummet. US and foreign airlines plan to operate about 14,000 flights across the Atlantic this month, just over half of the 29,000 flights that operated during October 2019, according to data from aviation research firm Cirium.

Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst in San Francisco, said lifting country-specific restrictions will help, but will be tempered by vaccination and testing requirements.

“Anyone expecting an explosion of international visitors will be disappointed,” he said. “Nov. 8 will be the start of the recovery for international travel in the US, but I don’t think we will 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 not be practical due to the large number of passengers flying within the US every day.

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