On Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2020, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn into office. Although the 46th president of the United States has been in office for just a few days, there is much on his agenda. He immediately got to work, spending a portion of his celebratory first day signing executive plans to roll back certain initiatives relating to the climate crisis, COVID-19, immigration, and racial justice.
Biden’s inauguration was momentous for more than U.S. citizens; it was momentous for people worldwide. For AMO visitors, changes in international travel policy may be of particular interest. Below we highlight key changes that encourage inclusivity without sacrificing safety.
Removal of the Trump Administration’s Travel Ban
During his first day in office, Biden signed 17 executive orders, including a proclamation to remove The Trump travel ban—a series of executive orders enacted in early 2017 that restricted U.S. travel from 13 predominantly Muslim and African countries. Biden’s removal of this travel ban represents a new era of acceptance and goodwill.
Removing the ban was one of Biden’s promises while on the campaign trail. This action isn’t something Biden did to win over voters; the executive order, which prevents future presidents from having the power to enact such travel restrictions, speaks to his character.
Some International Travel Will Still Be Restricted Due to COVID-19
Just a few days before Trump left office, he signed an executive order that would lift COVID-19-related international travel restrictions on 26 European countries starting Jan. 26. Biden has vowed to restrict that order, ensuring the current measures stay in place. This is a result of severely increased case numbers and death tolls, which could be exacerbated by the newer, easily transmittable COVID-19 strain B117.
Biden’s decision to keep COVID-19-travel restrictions will help control the spread of COVID-19, minimizing hospital fatigue, keeping the death toll low, and making vaccination more manageable. In the end, meeting each of these goals will help things, including travel, to return to normal more quickly. American citizens and permanent residents of countries under COVID-19 travel bans can still travel home to their respective countries.
International Travelers Will Still Need to Mask Up and Quarantine
To ensure that COVID-19 is not spread by those traveling home to the U.S. or from countries not included in COVID-19 travel restrictions, Biden signed an order mandating masks on planes and other public transportation. This mandate also extends to federal properties.
In addition to encouraging travelers to wear masks, Biden hopes to keep U.S. citizens even safer by requiring travelers to the U.S. to show proof of negative COVID-19 tests before boarding their flight. Travelers must also follow self-quarantine guidelines. Right now, self-quarantines should last a minimum of 10 days—less than the 14 days originally recommended.
Biden has also reengaged with the World Health Organization and joined global vaccine efforts. Also promising, Biden has installed Dr. Anthony Fauci as his chief medical adviser. Biden’s clear prioritization of public health brings hope for an expansion of Obamacare to make healthcare accessible to more people at lower costs.
Want to know more about how this new presidency will change the U.S?