U.S. reportedly mulls plan to reopen borders; ASTA calls it 'long overdue'

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The White House is reportedly in the process of developing a "new system for international travel" for foreign visitors.
The White House is reportedly in the process of developing a "new system for international travel" for foreign visitors. Photo Credit: Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock

Amid reports that U.S. officials are preparing to unveil an updated international travel policy for inbound visitors, ASTA on Wednesday came out strongly in favor of such a move, calling it "long overdue."

The Biden administration is considering requiring international visitors to be vaccinated, and to agree to contract tracing when it revamps the current restrictions that bar foreigners from entering the U.S., according to an Associated Press report. The plan was also reported by Reuters.

Jeffrey Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told a panel that advises Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on itravel and tourism-related issues that current protocols will remain in place until the administration puts in place a "new system" for international travel, the report said.

"We are exploring vaccination requirements for foreign nationals traveling to the United States," he said.

The U.S. has essentially banned foreign travel from China, Brazil, the U.K., Ireland and countries within the European Schengen area, among other markets, even as many of those markets have reopened -- with albeit with restrictions and rules -- to U.S. travelers.

Many countries that accept U.S. visitors, such as those in Europe and the Caribbean, require Americans to be fully vaccinated before entry.

U.S. reportedly mulls plan to reopen borders; ASTA calls it 'long overdue'

"We urge the Biden administration to finalize this plan as quickly as possible and to otherwise make safely restarting international travel occur by opening borders an immediate priority," ASTA said in a statement. "The travel industry as a whole will not recover from Covid until international travel restarts in earnest."

ASTA added that it hoped the revamped U.S. policy would incorporate what the trade group called "common-sense measures," including the development of clear vaccination and testing standards; loosening entry restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers; and travel standards that align with the policies of major outbound markets like Canada, the EU and the U.K.

This report was updated Sept. 16 to include additional information from an Associated Press report.

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