U.S. to require COVID-19 vaccination on arrival for some foreign nationals with exemptions, memo says

Most people who receive those "very limited" exemptions would be required to agree to get vaccinated upon arrival

  
Travelers pack a United Airlines check-in area ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday at Newark International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, U.S., November 25, 2020.

Travelers pack a United Airlines check-in area ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday at Newark International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, U.S., November 25, 2020.

Reuters/Mike Segar/File Photo

WASHINGTON - Under new U.S. rules, foreign nationals admitted to the United States on humanitarian grounds, who are not required to have COVID-19 vaccinations, will have to agree to be vaccinated upon arrival, according to a planning document seen by Reuters.

The White House on Monday said it would lift restrictions that bar many non-U.S. citizens from traveling to the United States by air starting in November. The United States will require nearly all foreign nationals age 12 and over to show proof of COVID-19 vaccines before entering the country.

Exemptions to that policy will include "children, COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants and humanitarian exceptions for people traveling for an important reason and who lack access to vaccination in a timely manner," the planning document said.

Most people who receive those "very limited" exemptions would be required to agree to get vaccinated upon arrival, the document said. It was not immediately clear how or where vaccines would be administered or if the travelers would have to quarantine while waiting for their immunity to build.

A White House official said the administration is still working on the rules that will govern exemptions and added those traveling under humanitarian exemptions "will also need a compelling reason to come to the (United States)."

"To the extent there are people fleeing sort of exigent circumstances, violent conflict ... that is something we'll consider" when granting a humanitarian exemption, a White House official said.

The document said the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Aviation Administration and State Department will work "to develop the directives and processes for implementing these changes via the boarding process with airlines and through consular affairs offices."

An administration official said policies about religious exemptions will be decided during that process.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and David Shepardson; Editing by Heather Timmons and Cynthia Osterman) ((David.Shepardson@thomsonreuters.com; 2028988324;))


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