US extends Covid vaccine mandate for foreign travelers

The Biden administration has extended the coronavirus vaccine requirement for foreign travelers at least through April 10 (Picture: Getty Images)

The US has extended its coronavirus vaccine mandate for foreign travelers entering by air.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) policy around the vaccines was set to expire on January 8. But the policy will now be enforced at least through April 10, according to an emergency amendment issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The extension means that all foreigners coming to the US will have to show proof of at least two Covid-19 vaccine doses or an acceptable single-dose jab such as Johnson & Johnson.

It makes the US stand apart from most western nations which have lifted the vaccine requirements after they did not seem to curb infection rates. The UK and most European countries have ditched the ‘vaccine passport’ requirement.

The Covid-19 vaccine requirement was set to expire on January 8 before the Biden administration extended it

The Covid-19 vaccine requirement was set to expire on January 8 before the Biden administration extended it (Picture: Getty Images)

The Biden administration’s latest move comes one week after it began requiring airline passengers traveling from China – where Covid-19 was rapidly spreading – to show negative tests for entry into the US.

America issued a policy limiting entry ‘of non-citizens by air travel who are nonimmigrants (“noncitizen nonimmigrants”) and who are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19’ in October 2021, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The policy mandated Covid-19 testing and was rescinded in June 2022.

However, the testing requirement for Chinese travelers by air becomes effective midnight on January 5.

The TSA claims that its latest emergency amendment is designed to protect Americans from the virus and prevent hospitals from getting filled with patients.

‘Together with the Presidential Proclamation and the CDC Order, these policies are intended to limit the risk that Covid-19, including variants of the virus that causes Covid-19, is introduced, transmitted, and spread into and throughout the United States,’ states the TSA document, ‘Potentially overwhelming United States healthcare and public health resources, endangering the health and safety of the American people, and threatening the security of our civil aviation system.’

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