White House plans 'new system' for international travel
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday the United States is developing a "new international travel system" that will include new strong containment procedures like contact tracing.
Zients told the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board that the government has no plans to immediately relax travel restrictions due to cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
"We are currently examining the compulsory vaccination for foreigners who travel to the USA," said Zients.
Reuters first reported in early August that the White House was developing vaccine requirements that could cover almost all foreign visitors.
The exceptional travel restrictions in the US were first imposed on China in January 2020 to combat the spread of COVID-19. Numerous other countries were added, most recently India in May.
The government wants to lift travel restrictions "as soon as possible," said Zients, adding that it is working "now to be ready to replace the current restrictions with a new system of international travel that is safer, stronger and more sustainable ".
The United States is currently banning most non-US citizens who have been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil in the last 14 days.
It separately blocks non-essential travel for most non-US citizens on US land borders with Mexico and Canada.
Many critics of the restrictions say they no longer make sense because some countries with high COVID-19 infection rates are not on the blacklist, while some countries on the list have the pandemic under control.
(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bernadette Baum)
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