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President Biden Lifts Existing International Travel Restrictions, Imposes New Vaccine Rules

President Biden Lifts Existing International Travel Restrictions, Imposes New Vaccine Rules

It’s time to renew those passports.

President Joe Biden signed an order on Monday imposing new vaccine requirements for most foreign national air travelers and lifting severe travel restrictions on China, India, and much of Europe. The new rules will take effect on November 8, the White House said.

View of a desert terminal at Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD) on November 10, 2020, amid the Coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

The 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 Britain, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran, Brazil, and the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls.

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 as well unvaccinated Americans who will face stricter testing rules. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued on Monday new contact tracing rules requiring airlines to collect information from international air passengers like phone numbers, email and U.S. addresses and retain it for 30 days in case it needed “to follow up with travelers who have been exposed to COVID-19 variants or other pathogens.”

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The White House confirmed that children under 18 are exempt from the new vaccine requirements as are people with some medical issues. Non-tourist travelers from nearly 50 countries with nationwide vaccination rates of less than 10% will also be eligible for exemption from the rules. Those receiving an exemption will generally need to be vaccinated within 60 days after arriving in the United States.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) plans to issue a security directive that provides the legal basis for airlines implementing the vaccine requirements.

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