September 20, 2021
Atualização:20 Sep 2021 às 16:12
The United States plans to ease travel restrictions for all fully vaccinated foreign visitors starting in November, the White House said on Monday, relaxing a patchwork of bans that have begun to stir fury in Europe and replacing them with requirements more uniforms for arriving international air passengers.
The new rules will require all foreigners arriving in the United States to show proof of being fully vaccinated, said White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients.
He said the new rules will go into effect in early November, a timetable that will give agencies and airlines "time to prepare."
The lifting of general restrictions on travel from certain countries to the United States will be good news for thousands of foreign nationals with families in the United States who were kept apart for most of the pandemic.
The Financial Times was the first to report the news.
In addition to requiring vaccination, the government said it is taking other measures to mitigate the spread of the virus in three other areas: testing, contact tracking and masking.
Cidadãos estrangeiros totalmente vacinados e cidadãos americanos retornando aos Estados Unidos vindos do exterior deverão fazer um teste Covid-19 antes da partida no prazo de três dias de seu voo e apresentar prova de resultado negativo antes do embarque.
Unvaccinated Americans returning to the United States will be "subject to stricter testing requirements," Zients said, including a test within one day of departure and an additional test when they return.
Fully vaccinated passengers will not be subject to any quarantine orders upon arrival in the US.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to issue a contact tracking order requiring airlines to collect information from travelers bound for the United States, including a phone number and email address, to alert travelers about a possible exposure.
Airlines will be required to retain contact tracking information for 30 days.
“This will allow the CDC and state and local public health authorities to track arriving travelers and people around them if anyone has potentially been exposed to Covid-19 and other pathogens,” said Zients, adding to this new requirement will be used more broadly going forward to help protect "against any future threats to public health."
The new guidance applies to all international travel. Zients said the White House would submit to the CDC the definition of “fully vaccinated,” including which vaccines qualify.
the vaccine AstraZeneca Covid-19 has not yet been approved for emergency use in the United States, but is widely used in Europe and the rest of the world.
The development is a first step towards repairing one of several emerging gaps between the Biden government and authorities in Europe.
A dispute arose between the United States and France over an agreement to equip Australia with nuclear submarines, depriving France of a contract to supply conventional submarines. European leaders have also found that consultations with Biden's team on Afghanistan are lacking.
The event will also be greeted favorably by the travel industry, which has been pressuring the federal government to lift some of the rules that impede international tourism.
Zients maintained that the government "is not taking any steps from the table" when asked about the possibility of vaccine mandates for Americans traveling in the country.
And he said there have been no updates to the existing rules on land border crossings with Canada and Mexico.
The US travel ban was imposed in the early days of the pandemic, when then-President Donald Trump limited travel from China in January 2020.
That measure did not stop the virus from reaching the United States, but other countries were added to the list as health officials pressured the White House to limit entry from places where case rates were high.
Trump added countries in the Schengen Zone – which covers 26 states in Europe, including France, Germany and Italy – along with Ireland and the UK.
Brazil, South Africa and India were added separately. The land borders with Canada and Mexico were also closed.
Biden maintained strict bans on non-essential travel even as vaccination rates in Europe soared, citing the unpredictable nature of the pandemic and the emergence of the Delta variant.
But the system proved irritating to European governments, whose citizens of countries still had no access to the United States, even as those nations reduced their case counts amid successful vaccination campaigns.
Countries with higher cases that were not on the list were not subject to the rules.
Over the past few months, travel restrictions for people wishing to enter the United States had turned into a major transatlantic rift.
European leaders, frustrated by the apparent lack of progress, began to make their grievances public. They said the rules were hurting relations between Europe and the United States.
Europe opened its borders to Americans in June, but last month reversed course, removing the United States from a safe list of countries whose citizens are exempt from quarantine or testing requirements.
Anger at the United States' lack of reciprocity partially fueled the decision, said European officials familiar with the matter.
Biden took office vowing to restore frayed alliances and spent much of a trip to Europe in June proclaiming his commitment to transatlantic ties.
He announced during the visit a series of task forces aimed at examining the reopening trip, but months passed with little to show for the effort.
Overseen by the White House Covid-19 Response Team and the National Security Council, the groups include representatives from the CDC along with officials from the Departments of State, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Transportation.
US officials have partnered with representatives from the European Union, the UK, Canada and Mexico and have met several times to discuss the reopening situation since the government announced them at the start of Biden's first trip abroad in June.
There were also several conversations in smaller groups between these larger meetings to discuss specific issues such as the epidemiological situation, variants, surveillance and vaccination efforts, and plans to change travel restrictions, a White House official told CNN.
But some people familiar with the working groups questioned their effectiveness, as other countries began to open up to Americans with little clarity about whether the US would reciprocate.
A source familiar with the discussions described “interagency paralysis” in the next steps.
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