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U.S. Entry Restrictions Likely to Remain Despite Trump Executive Order

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As his remaining hours left in office wane, President Donald Trump has issued an executive order to lift travel restrictions from Europe and Brazil, though President-elect Joe Biden’s team has indicated they will overturn it before it can go into effect.

Trump’s order, issued on Monday, ends entry restrictions for the 26 countries in Europe’s Schengen Area as well as the United Kingdom, Ireland and Brazil, effective Jan. 26. The order cites last week’s newly announced requirement of negative Covid-19 tests for all inbound international travelers as sufficient to curb Covid-19 spread from those areas, per the advice of outgoing Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

“Public health officials in the jurisdictions have a proven record of working with the United States to share accurate and timely Covid -19 testing and trend data, and the United States has active collaborations with the jurisdictions regarding how to make travel safe between our respective countries,” according to Trump’s proclamation. The order leaves travel restrictions in place for China and Iran, saying their governments have not been cooperative in sharing health data.

In a pair of tweets on Monday, however, Jen Psaki, who Biden has said will serve as White House press secretary when he assumes the office on Wednesday, said the Biden administration has no plans to lift any Covid-related travel restrictions on Jan. 26.

“With the pandemic worsening and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” Psaki said in her tweets. “In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of Covid-19.”

Biden is, however, expected to sign an executive order overturning a travel and immigration ban targeting mostly citizens from majority-Muslim countries that Trump enacted early in his term. Multiple media outlets over the weekend cited a memo by incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain, saying that overturning the ban would be part of a slate of actions Biden will take on his first day in office.

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