The Biden administration announced on Monday that children under 18 and people from dozens of countries with a shortage of vaccines, will be exempt from new rules that will require most travelers coming to the United States to be vaccinated from COVID-19.
The new updated policy comes as the Biden administration moves away from restrictions that ban non-essential travel from several dozen countries, most of Europe, China, Brazil, South Africa, India and Iran, instead of focusing on classifying individuals by risk they pose to others.
It also reflects the White House’s embrace of vaccination requirements as a tool to push more Americans to get the shots by making it inconvenient to remain unvaccinated.
Beginning on November 8, foreign, non-immigrant adults traveling to the U.S. will need to be fully vaccinated, with only limited circumstances or exceptions, and all travelers will need to be tested for the virus before boarding a plane to the U.S. It will require unvaccinated U.S. citizens and long-term residents to have to present a negative Covid test taken a day before re-entering the country, while unvaccinated foreign nationals will be able to enter only in limited circumstances, an administration official said Monday. Fully vaccinated Americans will have to be tested three days before traveled with tightened restrictions for American and foreign citizens who are not fully vaccinated.
For foreign nationals, the administration announced in September it will require all visitors to be fully vaccinated before entering the country, but on Monday outlined exemptions to that requirement.
People coming from countries with vaccination rates under 10 percent, for example, will also have to provide a compelling reason for why they are traveling to the U.S., a senior administration official said.
The government will require airlines to collect contact information on passengers regardless of whether they have been vaccinated to help with contact tracing, if that becomes necessary.
The officials also said the U.S. will accept any of the vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) even if they are not cleared in the U.S., including Russian and Chinese vaccines, which have limited data on their effectiveness against the Delta variant.