US Issues New Vaccine Rules for Foreign Travelers

US Issues New Vaccine Rules for Foreign Travelers

US President Joe Biden on Monday (25/10) signed new rules on vaccines for international air travellers. The US government has also lifted very strict restrictions on travel from China, India and most European countries.

Ummatimes - Both policies will take effect on November 8, the White House said. "It is in the interest of the United States to remove the country-by-country restrictions previously imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic and to adopt an air travel policy that relies largely on vaccinations to safely restore international air travel to the United States," Biden said in a statement.

The White House confirmed that children under 18 and people with certain health conditions are exempt from the new vaccine requirements. Non-tourist travelers from about 50 countries with a vaccination rate of less than 10 percent will also be granted an exemption.

These countries include Egypt, Algeria, Armenia, Myanmar, Iraq, Nicaragua, Senegal, Uganda, Libya, Ethiopia, Zambia, Congo, Kenya, Yemen, Haiti, Chad and Madagascar. Those who are excluded must generally be vaccinated within 60 days of arriving in the US.

The extraordinarily stringent travel restrictions were first imposed by the US in early 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The rules bar the entry of most foreigners who in the past two weeks have lived in the UK, 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border rules, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.

The US government revealed on September 20 that it would remove restrictions for travelers from 33 countries who were fully vaccinated by early November. "Families and friends can see each other again, tourists can visit our amazing places. This policy will further promote economic recovery," said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

The Biden administration also detailed conditions for airlines to ensure foreign travelers are vaccinated before boarding a flight to the United States. One thing airlines are concerned about is making sure foreign travelers understand the new rules in just two weeks before they go into effect. U.S. officials also worry that such a short amount of time is not enough to give unvaccinated Americans understanding that they will face tougher testing rules.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday released new contact tracing rules that require airlines to collect information from international passengers. Passenger data such as telephone numbers, emails and addresses in the US must be recorded and stored for 30 days if at any time it is necessary to trace travelers who have been exposed to a variant of COVID-19 or other diseases.

The CDC previously said it would allow any vaccine approved for use by US regulators or the World Health Organization (WHO) and mixed-dose vaccines that travelers receive. The US Transportation Safety Board plans to issue a security order that provides airlines with the legal basis for implementing the vaccine rules.

The passenger acknowledgment form states that lying about vaccination status is a crime. The CDC says there are no religious exceptions for international travelers who wish to circumvent COVID-19 restrictions.

They must submit vaccination documents from government sources and airlines must confirm the last dose they received at least two weeks before departure. They must also show a negative result of a COVID-19 test carried out a maximum of three days in advance.

The White House said unvaccinated Americans and exempt foreigners would be required to show negative results for COVID-19 tests taken up to the day before. The US government will release details of the new rules this week along with plans to lift land border restrictions on November 8 for foreigners who have been vaccinated.