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Covid-19 travel restrictions: Biden reinstates restrictions lifted by Trump

CNN logo CNN 1/26/2021 By Arlette Saenz and Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera © Alex Brandon/AP

President Joe Biden on Monday reinstated the Covid-19 travel restrictions on non-US citizens who have been in Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and much of Europe.

Biden also extended the restrictions to travelers who have recently been to South Africa.

The step, which was first reported by Reuters, came just one week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in his final days in office lifting the restrictions on travelers from these countries effective January 26.

"The entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of noncitizens who were physically present within the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe), the Republic of Ireland, and the Federative Republic of Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, is hereby suspended," the proclamation read in part.

The proclamation is in effect for people who do not fall under a number of exceptions spelled out in the order.

The Biden transition team had vowed the new administration would not lift the restrictions. "With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel," then-incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Twitter.


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"On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19."

The decision to reinstate the travel restrictions -- and expand restrictions in the case of South Africa -- marks the latest effort by the Biden administration to break from Trump's discursive approach to the pandemic as cases continue to climb nationwide.

Biden said on his first full day in office on Thursday his strategy would be "based on science, not politics" as he signed a slate of coronavirus-related executive actions, including ramping up vaccination supplies and requiring international travelers to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test prior to traveling to the US.

Many of the countries that would have been impacted by Trump's order have their own recent requirements for American travelers looking to enter their borders.

US travelers must have a negative Covid-19 test from within 72 hours prior to travel into the United Kingdom or Ireland, and in conjunction with proof of a completed Declaration of Traveler's Health to enter Brazil. American travelers generally cannot enter countries such as Spain, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden without meeting specific requirements.

This story has been updated to include additional information.

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