U.S. Developing Plan to Require the COVID-19 Vaccine for International Travelers
The Biden administration is developing a plan to re-open the country's international borders to fully vaccinated travelers.
The plan would require nearly all foreign visitors to show proof of vaccination in order to enter the United States, a White House official told Reuters. The move would mirror similar measures that have been implemented in countries across the world, including in the United Kingdom and Thailand.
The official told the outlet that the administration was working "to have a new system ready for when we can reopen travel," adding it includes "a phased approach that over time will mean, with limited exceptions, that foreign nationals traveling to the United States (from all countries) need to be fully vaccinated."
Currently, the U.S. restricts non-essential travel for non-U.S. citizens from several countries around the world, including the UK and European Union, and has extended the land border closure with Canada and Mexico until at least Aug. 21.
All travelers who do fly into the U.S. from an international destination are currently required to get tested within three days of boarding a flight, regardless of their vaccination status. U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and Guam are exempt.
Last month, the Biden administration said there were no plans to lift international restrictions just yet, citing the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Department have also warned against travel to several popular destinations due to COVID-19, including the UK, Greece, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
How to implement a vaccine mandate for foreign visitors remains an open question. Reuters noted the administration needs to determine what kind of proof they would accept and if they would allow visitors who received a vaccine that has not yet been approved in the U.S.
The news comes as New York City announced it will require people to show proof of vaccination for indoor venues like restaurants, entertainment venues, and gyms.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.