United States Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Thursday that the decision by the Biden administration to lift international travel restrictions in early November will be a boost to the US economy.
The US will reopen to air passengers from China, India, the United Kingdom, and many other European countries who received COVID-19 vaccines in early November, according to the White House, reversing tight pandemic-related travel restrictions that began early last year.
As it transitions to the new requirements, the White House aims to let non-US citizen passengers from nations that have been restricted from entering the US since early 2020, according to White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients.
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The limitations were first placed on Chinese travellers in January 2020 by then-President Donald Trump, and then expanded to other nations in the months that followed, with no clear indicators for how and when they would be lifted.
In April of this year, President Joe Biden imposed new travel restrictions on India, prohibiting most non-U.S. nationals from entering the country. In January, Trump announced proposals to relax limitations on European countries, which Biden opposed.
Most non-US citizens who have spent the previous 14 days in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe with no border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran, or Brazil are currently barred from entering the United States.
Officials indicated there will be certain exceptions to the vaccine policy, such as for children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. Travelers crossing land borders with Mexico and Canada are currently exempt from the new requirements.
Airlines pushed the White House for months to have the limitations eased in time for the summer travel season, but they were unsuccessful. In July, the White House expressed alarm about the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant and an increase in COVID-19 cases in the United States.
Since then, the seven-day average of reported COVID-19 cases in the United States has more than doubled.