KEY POINTS

  • The move is part of an effort to boost the US airline and tourism industry
  • The Delta variant now accounts for 93% of all sequenced cases in the US
  • The US has recorded 35,331,683 COVID-19 cases and 614,797 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic

The Biden administration is now developing a plan that would require foreign travelers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before entering the United States, according to a White House official. 

The official who spoke on the condition of anonymity Wednesday said the multiple agencies are working to implement a new system that would allow the country to reopen travel as part of an effort to boost the airlines and tourism industry, Reuters reported.

The easing of travel restrictions would occur through a phased approach, which includes requiring foreign travelers from any country hoping to enter the U.S. to be fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, the official said, according to the report. 

Currently, the United States bars foreign nationals who have been to the U.K., European Union nations, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran, or Brazil in the last two weeks from entering the country. It is unclear whether the administration will lift those restrictions soon.

All travelers to the U.S., regardless of their vaccination status, are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of air travel to the country. 

The only foreign travelers allowed to cross by land into the U.S. from Mexico and Canada are essential workers, such as truck drivers or health care workers. It is also unclear whether the administration will maintain these restrictions. 

Many critics have slammed the Biden administration for refusing to lift some restrictions, noting that the COVID-19 situation in the country is worse than some of the prohibited nations. 

The more contagious Delta variant is now rapidly spreading across several states in the U.S. It accounts for at least 93% of all sequenced coronavirus cases in the country. The figure is even higher in parts of the country, including Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, where the highly transmissible variant accounts for 98% of all cases.

The Alpha variant, which accounted for 69% of sequenced cases in the U.S. in May, is now estimated to only cause 3% of new coronavirus cases, according to the CDC’s estimates, as reported by WGAL.  

The U.S. has recorded 35,331,683 COVID-19 cases and 614,797 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Globally, the case numbers have surpassed the 200 million mark, with the U.S. reporting the most number of cases, followed by India with more than 31 million cases and Brazil with over 20 million infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.  

With travel restrictions easing, Ryanair earlier this month announced plans to hire more than 2,000 pilots With travel restrictions easing, Ryanair earlier this month announced plans to hire more than 2,000 pilots Photo: AFP / Tobias Schwarz