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U.S. imposes new international travel vaccine rules, lifts existing restrictions

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LONDON, (The Southern African Times) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday signed an order imposing new vaccine requirements for most foreign national air travelers and lifting severe travel restrictions on China, India and much of Europe effective November 8, the White House said.

The U.S. travel restrictions were first imposed in early 2020 to address the spread of COVID-19. The rules bar most non-U.S. citizens who within the last 14 days have been in Britain, the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.

“It is in the interests of the United States to move away from the country-by-country restrictions previously applied during the COVID-19 pandemic and to adopt an air travel policy that relies primarily on vaccination to advance the safe resumption of international air travel to the United States,” Biden’s proclamation says.

The White House confirmed that children under 18 are exempt from the new vaccine requirements as are people with some medical issues. Non-tourist travelers from nearly 50 countries with nationwide vaccination rates of less than 10% will also be eligible for exemption from the rules. Those receiving an exemption will generally need to be vaccinated within 60 days after arriving in the United States.

Those countries include Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, Armenia, Myanmar, Iraq, Nicaragua, Senegal, Uganda, Libya, Ethiopia, Zambia, Congo, Kenya, Yemen, Haiti, Chad and Madagascar.

The White House first disclosed on September 20 it would remove restrictions in early November for fully vaccinated air travelers from 33 countries.

“Families and friends can see each other again, tourists can visit our amazing landmarks. This policy will further boost economic recovery,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

The Biden administration also detailed requirements airlines must follow to confirm foreign travelers have been vaccinated before boarding U.S.-bound flights.

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