White House plans ‘new system’ for international travel amid COVID-19

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White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said on Wednesday the US is developing a “new system for international travel” that will include new strong mitigation procedures like contact tracing.

Zients told the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board the administration does not plan to immediately relax any travel restrictions because of COVID-19 Delta variant cases.


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“We are exploring considering vaccination requirements for foreign nationals traveling to the US,” Zients said.

Reuters first reported early in August that the White House was developing vaccine requirements that could cover nearly all foreign visitors.

The extraordinary US travel restrictions were first imposed on China in January 2020 to address the spread of COVID-19. Numerous other countries have been added, most recently India, in May.

The administration wanted to lift travel restrictions “as soon as we can,” Zients said, adding it was “working now to be ready to replace the current restrictions with a new system for international travel that is safer, stronger and sustainable.”

The United States currently bars most non-US citizens who within the last 14 days have been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.

It separately bars non-essential travel by most non-US citizens at US land borders with Mexico and Canada.

Many critics of the restrictions say they no longer make sense because some countries with high rates of COVID-19 infections are not on the restricted list while some countries on the list have the pandemic under control.

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