Holidaymakers will need to be fully-vaccinated against Covid in order travel to the US, according to a White House official.
The Biden administration is set to impose the vaccine mandate on almost all foreign visitors to America as part of a larger plan to re-open the country’s border.
The move to demand vaccination would be part of the US eventually lifting travel restrictions that bar much of the world, including the UK and Europe, from entering America.
Foreign travelers from dozens of countries have been banned from entering the US since the start of the pandemic, in March 2020, and Joe Biden’s team is yet to make any suggestion for when the border restrictions may be lifted.
According to the White House official, speaking to Reuters on Wednesday, the White House is not ready to lift travel restrictions just yet because of the rising number of Covid cases in the US, the official said.
The Delta variant of the virus is surging through the states, leading to a sharp increase in new cases and hospitalizations.
But in the first sign of possible movement with the strict border rules, the Biden administration is said to have set up an inter-agency working group that’s tasked with ensuring the US has ‘a new system ready for when we can reopen travel’, the official said.
The source added that the plan 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.’
The White House has been repeatedly asked when travel restrictions might be lifted.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked why unvaccinated people from other parts of the world are allowed to travel into the US, but vaccinated individuals from Europe and other banned countries are not.
‘I would certainly point you to our health and medical teams who make these decisions and evaluate what we need to do, from a public health perspective, to keep the American people safe at a time where the Delta variant is rising, and one where we are very cognizant about keeping the American people safe’, Psaki replied.
Currently, non US-citizens aren’t allowed into the country from China, Iran, most of Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South African and India.
Some of the border bans – such as the ones imposed on the EU, UK and China – have not been updated since they were put in place back in March 2020 when the pandemic first took hold.
Biden has been facing mounting pressure to lift the ban – including from travel industry groups who fear the tourism industry may never recover from the 18-month shutdown.
On Monday the UK announced that fully vaccinated travelers from the US and EU would be allowed back into the country without the need to quarantine for 10 days.
The EU, meanwhile, reopened its borders to American tourists in June.
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