AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
President Joe Biden leaves St. Edmund Roman Catholic Church in Rehoboth Beach, Del., after attending a Mass, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. Biden is spending the weekend at his Rehoboth Beach home.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will ease foreign travel restrictions into the U.S. beginning in November, when his administration will require all foreign nationals flying into the country to be fully vaccinated.
All foreign travelers flying to the U.S. will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of flight, said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients, who announced the new policy on Monday. Biden will also tighten testing rules for unvaccinated American citizens, who will need to be tested within a day before returning to the U.S., as well as after they arrive home.
Fully vaccinated passengers will not be required to quarantine, Zients said.
The new policy replaces a patchwork of travel restrictions first instituted by President Donald Trump last year and tightened by Biden earlier this year that restrict travel by non-citizens who have in the prior 14 days been in the United Kingdom, European Union, China, India, Iran, Republic of Ireland, Brazil and South Africa.
“This is based on individuals rather than a country based approach, so it’s a stronger system,” Zients said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also require airlines to collect contact information from international travelers to facilitate contact tracing, Zients said.
It was not immediately clear which vaccines would be acceptable under the U.S.-system and whether those unapproved in the U.S. could be used. Zients said that decision would be up to the CDC.
The new policy will take effect in “early November,” Zients said, to allow airlines and travel partners time to prepare to implement the new protocols.
President Joe Biden has unveiled a new "action plan" plan to confront the COVID-19 surge that's being driven by the spread of the delta variant. It mandates vaccines for federal workers and contractors and certain health care workers, requires employees at companies with 100 or more workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly, lays the groundwork for a booster shot campaign and recommends that large venues require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. The plan also makes recommendations on keeping schools open.
Key parts of the plan:
- All federal workers and contractors must get vaccinated, with limited exceptions.
- Private employers with 100 or more workers will have to require them to be vaccinated or tested weekly. Employers must provide paid time off for vaccination.
- About 17 million health care workers in hospitals, clinics and other facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid payments must get vaccinated.
- Some 300,000 employees of Head Start early childhood education and other federal education programs must get vaccinated.
- Governors are urged to require vaccination for school district employees.
- The federal government will continue to follow through with money for widespread testing in schools.
- Stadiums, concert halls and other venues for large events are urged to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID test.
- Federal agencies will lay the groundwork for a smooth booster shot campaign, starting the week of Sep. 20 — if the Food and Drug Administration authorizes or approves the boosters.
- Mask requirements will continue for interstate travel and in federal buildings. The Transportation Security Administration will double fines on airline, train and other travelers who refuse to mask up.
- The number of pharmacies offering free testing will be expanded to 10,000.
- Walmart, Amazon and Kroger will offer at-home COVID tests at cost, about a 35% savings for consumers.
- The Pentagon will double military medical teams helping local hospitals overwhelmed with virus patients.
- Federal agencies will boost shipments of a COVID-19 treatment known as monoclonal antibodies by 50%. Medical teams will be dispatched to help administer the treatments.
- Top loan amounts for small businesses affected by the pandemic will be increased to $2 million from $500,000 currently.