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The U.S. plans to require foreign travelers be fully vaccinated. What do we know so far?

What are the new travel restrictions? Who all is required to vaccinate? Here’s what we know right now about these developing policies

Passengers at the Salt Lake City International Airport.
Passengers wait at their gates for flights at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Monday, May 24, 2021. The Biden administration is expected to require nearly all foreign visitors traveling to the U.S. to be fully vaccinated, according to an anonymous White House Official on Wednesday, per The Associated Press.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The Biden administration is expected to require nearly all foreign visitors traveling to the U.S. to be fully vaccinated, according to an anonymous White House Official on Wednesday, per The Associated Press.

  • The Biden administration has put together an interagency task force to study how and when to open safely, reported BBC.
  • These plans and policies are still developing, reported The New York Times.

What are the current travel restrictions for those entering the U.S.?

To curtail the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. put restrictions on international travel in January 2020 and has expanded or maintained these restrictions ever since, per the BBC.

  • Currently, “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,” reported the AP.
  • Non-U.S. nationals who have visited Brazil, China, India, Ireland, Iran, South Africa, the U.K. or any of Europe’s 26 country Schengen zone within the last 14 days are prohibited from entering the U.S., per the BBC.

Numerous groups — including foreign allies, air travel industries and families kept apart from loved ones — have pressured the Biden administration to ease travel restrictions, reported the AP. These groups have complained that these restrictions ignore that the U.S. has a higher COVID-19 caseload than many prohibited places.

What do we know about the new vaccine requirements for foreign travelers?

The new vaccine requirements are a developing policy, reported The New York Times. An interagency task force is working on a new plan for safely reopening travel into the U.S. after the current restrictions are lifted.

  • “This includes a phased approach that over time will mean, with limited exceptions, that foreign nationals traveling to the United States (from all countries) need to be fully vaccinated,” said the unnamed official, per The New York Times.
  • This will allow the U.S. to reopen in a “safe and sustainable manner,” the unnamed official said per the BBC.

Currently, the U.S. is experiencing a surge in cases, particularly among unvaccinated individuals, driven by the delta variant, reported the Deseret News.

What’s still unknown about the new travel requirements?

Many specifics of the developing policy and new travel requirements remain unknown, reported the BBC.

  • No timeline for implementation has been announced, reported the AP.
  • No list of approved vaccines has been specified, reported the BBC.

The U.S. will “maintain existing travel restrictions at this point,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki last week, per the BBC.