In a significant development, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has issued a proclamation revoking the international air travel COVID-19 vaccination requirement that was imposed in October 2021. The decision comes as the United States enters a different phase of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the initial requirement was implemented, the world was grappling with the emergence of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, some of which were more transmissible or caused more severe illness than the original strain. Relying on guidance from public health experts, President Biden believed that adopting an international air travel policy based on vaccination was crucial to limiting the introduction and spread of the virus, including its variants, within the United States.
Since then, the country has made significant progress in combating the virus. A comprehensive and coordinated effort has resulted in historic investments in vaccines, tests, and therapeutics, enhancing accessibility and availability across the nation. The healthcare system and public health resources have also become better equipped to handle potential surges in COVID-19 cases without compromising access to care.
Globally, COVID-19 cases and deaths have reached their lowest levels since the pandemic’s onset. With advanced monitoring capabilities and the ability to respond swiftly to emerging variants, the President, in consultation with public health experts, has determined that the international air travel restrictions imposed in 2021 are no longer necessary.
President Biden’s proclamation revokes Proclamation 10294, with the exception of specific sections. The Secretaries of State, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Homeland Security have been directed to review any regulations, orders, guidance documents, and policies developed in response to the previous proclamation and consider revisions or revocations as appropriate.
The revocation will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on May 12, 2023. It is important to note that this proclamation is implemented in accordance with applicable laws and subject to the availability of appropriations.
President Biden’s action is a reflection of the changing landscape of the pandemic and the progress made in controlling its impact. While this proclamation does not create any new rights or benefits enforceable by individuals, it marks an important milestone in the ongoing efforts to navigate the COVID-19 crisis.
As the world continues to adapt and respond to the evolving challenges posed by the pandemic, the revocation of the air travel COVID-19 vaccination requirement signifies a shift in the United States’ approach, guided by the latest data and expert guidance.