Biden administration details new plans for air travel for foreign nationals starting next month

The change will relax a patchwork of bans that had begun to cause fury abroad and replace them with more uniform requirements for inbound international air passengers.

Posted: Oct 25, 2021 11:10 AM

By Betsy Klein, CNN

(CNN) -- The Biden administration on Monday outlined new details of its plans to allow Covid-19-vaccinated foreign nationals to travel to the United States again starting November 8, including details on which vaccines will be permitted and who will be exempted from requirements.

The change will relax a patchwork of bans that had begun to cause fury abroad and replace them with more uniform requirements for inbound international air passengers. It will come as welcome news to the travel industry, which had been lobbying the federal government to lift some of the rules preventing international tourism, as well as airlines, hotels and hospitality groups.

On Monday, the administration released three documents specifically related to the forthcoming air travel requirements, including a presidential proclamation establishing the requirements, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention orders on vaccines, testing and contact tracing, and technical instructions for implementation.

The new documents, a senior administration official told reporters, "will help airlines and travelers get ready for November 8, and ensure a smooth transition to the new system."

The guidance for land border travel is also expected soon and will likely mirror the rules for air travel.

The administration defines "fully vaccinated" non-citizen, non-immigrant air travelers as those who have received US-approved or World Health Organization-approved vaccines. Per the CDC, that includes "vaccines currently approved or authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson [J&J]/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines)" as well as "COVID-19 vaccines that have been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (such as AstraZeneca/Oxford)."

The administration is "well aware" that there are other Covid-19 vaccines not on the list, a second senior administration official said, and some of those other vaccines are under review by the WHO.

Those travelers will need to show proof of vaccine status from an "official source," per the White House fact sheet. The US will accept digital copies of vaccine certificates that align with US requirements, the second official said.

And children under 18 are exempt from the vaccination requirement, the second senior official said.

There are a few other rare vaccination exceptions, the White House fact sheet said. That includes "certain Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial participants, those with medical contraindications to the vaccines, those who need to travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons (with a US government-issued letter affirming the urgent need to travel), those who are traveling on non-tourist visas from countries with low-vaccine availability (as determined by the CDC), and other very narrow categories."

That list of about 50 exempt countries with low vaccine availability is regularly updated by the WHO, the second senior official noted, and will require a "specific, compelling" reason for travel, per the first official. The list will be assessed quarterly. The medical exemption applies to those who have had "severe anaphylactic allergic reactions to a prior Covid vaccine," the second senior official said.

Those with exemptions will represent, the first senior official said, a "very, very small number of actual travelers to US cities."

The administration has also tightened its requirements for testing. Unvaccinated US citizens, legal permanent residents, and travelers "will need to provide a negative test taken within one day of traveling," per a fact sheet from the White House. Children under two years of age do not need to test, the second official said. If a child age 2 to 18 is traveling with a vaccinated adult, they can test three days prior to departure.

The new guidelines, the White House said, will require all airlines flying into the US to keep contact information for contact tracing and turn it over "promptly" to the CDC when needed.

US travel bans were first imposed in the earliest days of the pandemic when then-President Donald Trump limited travel from China in January 2020. That step failed to prevent the virus from reaching the United States, but additional countries were added to the list as health officials pressed the White House to limit entry from places where case rates were high.

Trump added countries in the Schengen Zone -- which encompasses 26 states in Europe, including France, Germany and Italy -- along with Ireland and the United Kingdom. Brazil, South Africa and India were added separately. Land borders with Canada and Mexico were also closed.

President Joe Biden had maintained the strict bans on nonessential travel, even as vaccination rates in Europe ticked upward, citing the unpredictable nature of the pandemic and the emergence of the Delta variant.

But the system proved infuriating to European governments, whose countries' citizens were still barred entry to the United States even as those nations brought their case counts down amid successful vaccination campaigns. Countries with higher case totals that were not on the list were not subject to the rules.

Over the course of the past months, travel restrictions on people wishing to enter the United States had devolved into a major transatlantic rift. European leaders, frustrated at the apparent lack of progress, began taking their gripes public. They said the rules were damaging relations between Europe and the United States.

The new rules, the White House said, would be rolled out in a phased approach. The first phase will kick off in early November and will allow fully vaccinated visitors traveling for nonessential reasons, like visiting friends or for tourism, to cross US land borders.

The second phase will start in early January 2022 and will apply the vaccination requirement to all inbound foreign travelers.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5060048

Reported Deaths: 74129
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152429427102
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581500
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus912991413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058629
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
Out of CA00
Medford
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 48°
Brookings
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 55°
Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 48°
Grants Pass
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 48°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 36°
Few showers for Saturday, drier weather for Sunday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

Saturday, November 27th Weather

Image

SOU Men out shoot Antelope Valley, Women win 4th-straight

Image

Friday, November 26th Evening Weather

Image

Friday, November 26 weather

Image

Thursday, November 25th Evening Weather

Image

Pet of the Week: Bat, Hunk & Keith

Image

Thursday, November 25 afternoon weather

Image

Thursday, November 25 morning weather

Image

2021-2022 StormWatch 12 Winter Forecast

Image

Wednesday, November 24 Evening Weather