WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump lifted Covid-19 travel restrictions on travelers from the Schengen Area, the UK, Ireland, and Brazil effective Jan. 26, according to a proclamation Monday.
In the document released by the White House two days before Trump departs the presidential mansion, the outgoing president said the unrestricted entry of persons from these countries is "no longer detrimental" to US interests.
Trump said the US will maintain a travel ban on China and Iran.
The countries in the Schengen area include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Last March, the Trump administration imposed an entry ban on travelers from these countries and later the UK and Ireland to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In May, Trump suspended the entry of non-US citizens traveling from Brazil, which is a coronavirus hotspot in South America and now has the third-highest number of confirmed cases in the world with more than 8.4 million infections.
On the same day the ban is lifted, the US will start to require all passengers traveling to the country on international flights to test negative for Covid-19.
Trump said the order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will help prevent travelers from those jurisdictions from spreading the virus in the US.
As of late Monday, the US had more than 24 million coronavirus cases and nearly 400,000 deaths, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.
After the announcement, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary for President-elect Joe Biden, said now is not the time to lift restrictions on international travel, citing the worsening pandemic and more contagious variants of the virus.
"On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of Covid-19," Psaki said on Twitter. (Anadolu)