U.S. plans to require COVID-19 shots for foreign travelers
SCHOENEFELD, GERMANY - JULY 01: Passengers arrive at Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) on July 01, 2021 in Schoenefeld, Germany. Germany is removing pandemic-related travel warnings for lower risk countries. The new policy does not apply to people arriving from countries labeled as high risk, especially those where a coronavirus variant has spread widely, including Portugal, Russia and the United Kingdom. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House official said Wednesday that the Biden administration is taking the first steps toward requiring nearly all foreign visitors to the U.S. to be vaccinated for the coronavirus.
The requirement would come as part of the administration’s phased approach to easing travel restrictions for foreign citizens to the country. No timeline has yet been determined, as interagency working groups study how and when to move toward resuming normal travel safely. Eventually, all foreign citizens entering the country, with some limited exceptions, are expected to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the U.S.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the policy under development.
The Biden administration has kept in place travel restrictions that have severely curtailed international trips to the U.S., citing the spread of the delta variant of the virus. Under the rules, non-U.S. residents who have been to China, the European Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, and India in the prior 14 days are prohibited from entering the U.S.
All travelers to the U.S., regardless of vaccination status, are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of air travel to the country.
The Biden administration has faced pressure to lift some restrictions from affected allies, the air travel industry, and families who have been kept separated from loved ones by the rules. Many have complained that the travel restrictions don’t reflect the current virus situation — particularly as caseloads in the U.S. are worse than in many of the prohibited nations.