Biden administration to require foreign travellers to be vaccinated to enter U.S.

U.S. extends land border closure until Oct. 21

CBS News – Melissa Quinn, Kathryn Watson

The Biden administration is preparing to ease travel restrictions for vaccinated foreign nationals travelling to the United States, the White House announced Monday, rolling back a blanket ban on travel for non-U.S. citizens imposed by the Trump administration. But it also means unvaccinated foreign nationals who have been able to come to the U.S. will not be able to in the near future. 

Under the new policy from the Biden administration, which will begin in November, foreign nationals flying to the U.S. must be fully vaccinated and show proof of vaccination before boarding a plane, Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, told reporters. They will also have to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within three days of travelling. 

Fully vaccinated international travellers will not be required to quarantine upon their arrival in the U.S.

“This follows the science,” Zients said. “Requiring passengers to be fully vaccinated, we will protect Americans here at home.”

Unvaccinated Americans returning to the U.S. from abroad will need to show proof of a negative test taken within 24 hours of travel. 

The new requirements don’t affect land travel from Canada and Mexico, which is still restricted. 

That specific prohibition is being extended another 30 days until Oct. 21, a White House official said.

A key ingredient missing in all of this is whether the U.S. will accept Canadians who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has never been approved in America.

The move from the Biden administration comes 18 months after former President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would be restricting travel for foreign nationals coming from much of Europe, the United Kingdom, China, Brazil and other countries in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The prohibitions remained in place when President Biden took office in January, and the White House said in July it would maintain the restrictions due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, which drove a rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.