Aug. 6, 2021 -- The U.S. will require nearly all foreign travelers to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to enter the country.
The requirement will be announced as part of the Biden administration’s plan to ease travel restrictions, though no timeline has yet been set. Interagency working groups are studying how and when to resume travel before making the announcement.
The Biden administration is waiting to “have a new system ready for when we can reopen travel,” a White House official told Reuters on Wednesday. The plan will include “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.”
Current restrictions have cut down on international travel to the U.S., particularly as public health officials voice concerns about the spread of the Delta variant, according to The Associated Press. Non-residents who have traveled to China, the U.K., Brazil, South Africa and India in the previous 14 days are prohibited from entering the country.
In addition, all travelers to the U.S. are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 3 days of flying, the AP reported.
The White House is now talking with airlines and other groups about what type of vaccination proof will be accepted, Reuters reported, as well as how to implement policies for visitors traveling across land borders from Mexico and Canada. The Biden administration is also talking to airlines about establishing international contact tracing for passengers before lifting travel restrictions, the news outlet reported.
The Biden administration has faced pressure for months to ease restrictions, particularly as other countries relax their own travel protocols, according to The New York Times. The European Commission, which serves as the executive arm of the European Union, has encouraged U.S. authorities to lift restrictions for E.U. residents in particular.
“This must not drag on for weeks,” Ursula Von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said on Wednesday.
However, since COVID-19 infections “appear likely to continue to increase in the weeks ahead,” the White House official told Reuters, “the United States will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point.”