The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has released an 'emergency amendment' to the U.S. government's OCT, 2021 policy requiring any non-citizen arriving by air into the United States to prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19.
The current mandate was set to expire this week, and the updated amendment takes effect 09JAN, extending the requirement another two months, with a new expiration date of 10APR. Carriers must verify pax' vaccination status in order to board them for U.S.-bound flights.
The move makes the U.S. one of the last countries in the world to enforce vaccine mandates on air passengers. And not surprisingly, the move is controversial, with the Biden Administration's political opponents up in arms about the extended mandate.
As The Washington Times reports, critics argue that the continued policy harms trade and tourism, should be a personal choice, not a mandate, and that vaccines are ineffective at stopping the spread of the now-ubiquitous virus.
“President Biden himself said the pandemic is over so the original justification for the mandate has lapsed. Pre-pandemic, international tourism generated close to $2 trillion in U.S. economic activity, so denying entry to unvaccinated foreign guests is denying us untold billions in revenue,” Jenny Beth Martin, the honorary chairwoman of Tea Party Patriots Action, said in statement. “And last but not least, as a matter of principle, no one should be forced to take a vaccine against their will, whether they’re an American or a foreign guest.”
Returning U.S. citizens do not have to provide test or vaccine information to board a homeward-bound flight. The newly-extended policy is only for proof of vaccination; testing rules were dropped last year on non-American arrivals to the U.S.
However, the extension of the vaccine mandate comes soon after the U.S., along with many other countries including Canada, the U.K., a number of EU nations, India, Japan and others reinstated COVID testing requirements on arrivals from China, following its announcement of an abrupt end to its zero-COVID policy and reopened doors to travel despite spikes in outbreaks in the country.
China, as well as IATA and the WTTC, have all condemned the re-imposition of testing requirements for arrivals from China.