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White House's new guidance for international travelers includes stricter testing requirements for unvaccinated Americans

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The Biden administration released new guidance governing international travelers flying to the United States on Monday, affecting both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens.

Senior administration officials alerted reporters to three specific Centers for Disease Control and Prevention orders that advanced President Joe Biden's plan to drop COVID-19 travel restrictions by Nov. 8.

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The presidential proclamation reads:

"I have determined that 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. This proclamation governs the entry into the United States of noncitizen nonimmigrants — that is, noncitizens who are visiting the United States or otherwise being admitted temporarily -- traveling to the United States by air. It suspends the entry of unvaccinated noncitizen nonimmigrants, except in limited circumstances, and it ensures that the entry of unvaccinated noncitizen nonimmigrants is consistent with applicable health and safety determinations made by the Director of the CDC, including a requirement that, where appropriate, such individuals agree and arrange to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 upon their arrival. These policies aim to limit the risk that COVID-19, including variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, is introduced, transmitted, and spread into and throughout the United States, potentially overwhelming United States healthcare and public health resources, endangering the health and safety of the American people, and threatening the security of our civil aviation system."

The CDC's first order requires travelers, both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens, to provide airlines with proof of vaccination and proof of a negative PCR or antigen test within three days of departure to the U.S. The second order allows unvaccinated U.S citizens and eligible visa holders to fly to the U.S., but they must show proof of a negative test within one day of departure. The final order requires all airlines to collect contact tracing information from inbound passengers and deliver that information to the CDC. Administration officials will review the contact tracing specifically with airlines later on Monday.

The new guidance features a number of exemptions. Children ages 2-17 who are traveling with at least one vaccinated adult do not need to show proof of vaccination prior to flights but will still need to provide proof of a negative test within the proper window. Children traveling with unvaccinated American adults or eligible visa holders would fall into the one-day window.

Furthermore, the orders also exempt "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," according to a fact sheet distributed by the White House.

The administration is letting airlines opt to accept both digital and physical proof of vaccination and will "work closely with the airlines to ensure that these new requirements are implemented successfully." The airlines will be responsible for verifying that passengers' names and dates of birth match their vaccination documentation, in addition to verifying that documentation is issued by an official foreign government body.

At the moment, the CDC will only recognize passengers who are more than two weeks removed from a full regimen of coronavirus vaccines approved by the FDA or World Health Organization.

Senior administration officials additionally suggested that the forthcoming guidance allowing entry at official land crossings will mirror the CDC's requirements for air travel.

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"We have taken the deliberate steps of giving this time to ensure implementation goes as smoothly as possible, particularly with something that's wide-ranging. As with anything of this scale, there may be moments where travelers have issues or questions in the first few weeks of implementation," one official explained. "We understand the importance of international travel and are committed to ensuring a smooth transition to the new system on November 8."

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Tags: News, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Joe Biden, Coronavirus, White House, Vaccination, Travel

Original Author: Christian Datoc

Original Location: White House's new guidance for international travelers includes stricter testing requirements for unvaccinated Americans

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