The U.S. Will Require Virtually All International Arrivals to the United States to be Fully Vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of lifting travel restrictions that currently prevent many foreign nationals from entering the United States, according to a White House official.
Since June 2021, the Biden administration has had interagency working groups preparing the new system that will apply in order to safely reopen travel. Although the White House wants to re-open travel, which would facilitate both necessary business travel and boost the tourism industry, the administration has hesitated due to rising COVID-19 cases, particularly among the unvaccinated, and the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant.
Last week, Biden disappointed European Union officials, who had been calling for U.S. reciprocity in reopening safely to the fully vaccinated. Most European countries are now open to fully vaccinated Americans for leisure travel, and the UK now allows fully vaccinated Americans to avoid quarantine. The Delta variant is already the dominant strain across Europe and the United States.
The United States currently bars most non-U.S. citizens who within the last 14 days have been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.
The current COVID-19 travel restrictions have been criticized as both over-inclusive and under-inclusive. They're over-inclusive as they bar travelers from destinations such as Norway from visiting, even though Norway has about a fifth of the daily new cases per capita as in the U.S. They're under-inclusive since the restrictions don’t prevent U.S. citizens from traveling abroad and potentially bringing back a more virulent COVID-19 strain (returning citizens must obtain a negative test result from a COVID-19 test in the three days prior to returning back to the U.S., but antigen as well as PCR tests are accepted, and a person could test negative yet contract COVID-19 prior to returning to the U.S.). The current U.S. ban also doesn't yet exclude visitors from countries with higher COVID infection rates than the U.S., such as Botswana, Kazakhstan, Libya, Malaysia, etc.
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