The US Plans to Reopen to Tourists—as Long as They're Vaccinated

President Biden hopes to jumpstart tourism while minding the virus

Passengers wearing N95 face masks waiting in line at airport terminal
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The White House is developing plans to reopen the United States to international tourism, lifting bans on certain foreign travelers that have been in place since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. But, according to a report by Reuters, there's going to be a major stipulation— foreign visitors must be vaccinated, with rare exceptions.

Currently, foreign travelers who have spent time in Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, Europe's Schengen zone, South Africa, and the United Kingdom over the 14 days before entry to the U.S. are banned from entering the country. Unsurprisingly, those restrictions are detrimental to the international tourism industry in the U.S., which President Biden wants to jumpstart.

Currently, many countries worldwide have loosened international travel restrictions, including bans on American travelers that were enacted when the U.S. was the epicenter of the pandemic. Now, U.S. is looking to do the same—but the COVID-19 delta variant has officials concerned about new outbreaks.

Thus the Biden administration is balancing reopening the U.S. to international travelers with vaccination mandates for all foreign visitors, hoping to prevent the delta variation from spreading further within the country.

The timeline on reopening—and the implementation of the vaccine mandate—is still unclear. Per Reuters, a White House official said that the U.S. will be taking "a phased approach" to the reopening and that interagency groups "are developing a policy and planning process to be prepared for when the time is right to transition to this new system." It's suspected to take weeks for any changes to take effect.

The White House has also been in discussions with airlines about contract tracing for international travelers, which would be another measure to help prevent further coronavirus infections in the U.S.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the United States." April 30, 2021