U.S. to require contact tracing, Covid tests when international visitor curbs lift next month

A traveler wears a face mask while checking their phone on the arrivals level outside the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) amid increased Covid-19 travel restrictions on January 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

The White House on Monday said it will require airlines to check U.S.-bound travelers’ proof of Covid-19 vaccination and provide contact information to federal officials as part of new rules to lift pandemic travel restrictions on international travel starting next month.

The Biden administration earlier this month said it plans to lift pandemic restrictions that barred most visitors from dozens of countries, including the U.K. and Brazil, on Nov. 8, allowing in vaccinated travelers. The rules were put in place first by the Trump administration in early 2020 and then extended by the Biden administration this year.

Another change is that inbound travelers, including U.S. citizens, who are unvaccinated, will have to show proof of a negative Covid test taken within one day, up from three days. Vaccinated citizens and visitors will still have to show proof of a negative Covid test that was taken within three days of departure.

There will be some exemptions to the vaccine requirements for foreign visitors, including travelers under the age of 18 or those who have medical reasons prohibiting them from getting a vaccine, senior Biden administration officials said. Other exemptions include those traveling on nontourist visas from countries with low vaccine availability. Foreign visitors between age 2 and 17 must still take a Covid test three days before departure if they are traveling with a fully vaccinated adult.

Airlines, hotels and other travel companies have urged the U.S. government for more than a year to reopen borders. The U.S. established those restrictions in early 2020 at the start of the Covid pandemic.

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