U.S. House plans vote to end foreign air traveler COVID vaccine mandate
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote next week on a bill that would end a requirement that most foreign air travelers be vaccinated against COVID-19, Majority Leader Steve Scalise said on Friday.
The Biden administration in June dropped its requirement that people arriving in the country by air must test negative for COVID-19 but has not lifted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination requirements.
Currently, adult visitors to the United States who are not citizens or permanent residents must show proof of vaccination before boarding their flight, with some limited exceptions.
Republican Representative Thomas Massie introduced the measure to rescind the vaccine requirement. "The CDC's unscientific mandate is separating too many people from their families and has been doing so for far too long. It needs to end," he said on Twitter.
The CDC says vaccines continue to be the most important public health tool for fighting COVID-19 and recommends all travelers be vaccinated. The CDC did not immediately comment Friday.
The U.S. Travel Association said Thursday it has "long supported the removal of this requirement and see no reason to wait until the May expiration of the public health emergency - particularly as potential visitors are planning spring and summer travel."
The group says the United States "is the only country that still has this requirement for international visitors when there is no longer any public health justification."
Mask requirements on airplanes were relaxed last year after a judge declared them unlawful.
But in December, the United States imposed mandatory negative COVID-19 test requirements on most travelers from China as COVID infections rocketed there.
(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)