FILE PHOTO: A U.S. flag is reflected on the floor as passengers make their way through Reagan National Airport in Washington, U.S., July 1, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
October 25, 2021
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration plans to unveil on Monday its detailed rules requiring nearly all foreign air visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting Nov. 8, sources told Reuters.
The White House first disclosed on Sept. 20 it would remove restrictions in early November for fully vaccinated air travelers from 33 countries.
The extraordinary U.S. travel restrictions were first imposed in early 2020 to address the spread of COVID-19. The rules bar most non-U.S. citizens who within the last 14 days have been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.
The White House plans to outline the legal framework requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for most foreign air travelers replacing the current restrictions, as well as rules for exemptions from the requirements.
The Biden administration will also detail requirements airlines must follow to confirm foreign travelers have been vaccinated before boarding U.S.-bound flights.
The White House announced on Oct. 15 that the new vaccine rules would take effect on Nov. 8.
One concern among U.S. officials and airlines is making sure foreign travelers are aware of the new vaccine rules that will take effect in just two weeks.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans to issue new contact tracing rules requiring airlines to collect information from international air passengers. The White House said earlier airlines will provide the information “upon request to follow up with travelers who have been exposed to COVID-19 variants or other pathogens.”
The CDC said this month it would accept any vaccine authorized for use by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization and will accept mixed-dose coronavirus vaccines from travelers.
The new rules are expected to exempt minor children from the vaccine requirements, the sources said.
The Biden administration has also been discussing initially exempting citizens of a small number of countries with extremely low vaccination rates because of a lack of access to COVID-19 vaccines, the sources said, saying that would include enhanced testing requirements.
Foreign air travelers will need to provide vaccination documentation from an “official source” and airlines must confirm the last dose was at least two weeks earlier than the travel date.
International air travelers will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. The White House said in September unvaccinated Americans will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of departing.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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