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Biden easing foreign travel restrictions, requiring vaccines

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Washington, September 20

President Joe Biden will ease foreign travel restrictions into the US beginning in November, when his administration will require all foreign nationals flying into the country to be fully vaccinated.

All foreign travellers flying to the US 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 US, as well as after they arrive home.

Fully vaccinated passengers will not be required to quarantine, Zients said.

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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 Centres for Disease Control and Prevention will also require airlines to collect contact information from international travellers to facilitate contact tracing, Zients said.

It was not immediately clear which vaccines would be acceptable under the US-system and whether those unapproved in the US 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. —AP

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