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International travel is about to get more complicated for unvaccinated Americans

Tucked into Biden’s broader announcement this week were stricter rules for unvaccinated travelers

(iStock/Washington Post illustration)

The number of countries allowing unvaccinated American travelers to visit has been dwindling in recent weeks. Now those globe-trotters will find it more complicated to return to the United States after going abroad.

Starting in early November, Americans who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will have to test negative within a day of leaving on a return flight to the United States. That is a shift from the current rule that mandates travelers test negative within 72 hours of departure.

In a new requirement altogether, those fliers will also have to show proof that they have bought a viral test to take after they return to the country.

News of the rules was tucked into a broader White House announcement this week about the end of the ban on travelers from 33 countries that has been in place since early last year. Under measures taking effect in November, fully vaccinated foreign nationals will be allowed to visit with proof of a negative test taken no more than three days before boarding a flight.

More flights and higher prices: The travel ban lifting may affect your vacation, too

Many specifics are unclear for unvaccinated American travelers: What kind of tests will passengers need to take before departing and buy for their return? Who will be in charge of checking for proof that travelers have purchased a test? Will there be a follow-up requirement to report those results?

The White House said those details are being worked out before the rules are implemented in early November.

Also in the works: specific information for kids who are too young to get vaccinated. In a briefing Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the testing requirements for unvaccinated Americans “at this point would obviously apply to children as well.”

Vaccinated Americans will continue to have to show proof of a negative test within three days of flying back to the country or proof of recent recovery from covid-19.

U.S. to lift covid travel ban, allowing entry for vaccinated Europeans and others

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Americans should not travel internationally unless they are fully vaccinated. But current rules only require those travelers to get a test within three days of returning to the country. The CDC recommends unvaccinated people get a viral test one to three days before a trip, get tested again three to five days after traveling and stay home and self-quarantine for seven days after travel, even if they test negative.

Representatives for the public health agency referred questions about the new testing requirements to the White House.

Americans can go to some countries without being vaccinated, but more destinations are adding a vaccine requirement. After the European Union removed the United States from its safe list, countries including France, Spain and Belgium put rules into place earlier this month allowing entry to vaccinated Americans only.

The international travel measures come as the Biden administration seeks ways to encourage — or require — Americans to get the shots. Officials have not put a vaccine mandate in place for domestic travel, though the president’s chief medical adviser, Anthony S. Fauci, said he would support such a move.

“It’s on the table; we haven’t decided yet,” he told The Washington Post earlier this month. “But if the president said, ‘You know, let’s go ahead and do it,’ I would be supportive of it.”

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Where do things stand? See the latest covid numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people.

The state of public health: Conservative and libertarian forces have defanged much of the nation’s public health system through legislation and litigation as the world staggers into the fourth year of covid.

Grief and the pandemic: A Washington Post reporter covered the coronavirus — and then endured the death of her mother from covid-19. She offers a window into grief and resilience.

Would we shut down again? What will the United States do the next time a deadly virus comes knocking on the door?

Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot. New federal data shows adults who received the updated shots cut their risk of being hospitalized with covid-19 by 50 percent. Here’s guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.

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