Thanks to an increased number of vaccinations and a national decrease in new daily COVID cases, public health measures that have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic are starting to be removed. This includes new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on April 27 that fully vaccinated people can now be outside without masks in many cases. But the reality is that the fight against COVID-19 is not yet over, which is why the White House has said it's banning travel from certain places, effective Tuesday, May 4. Read on to see what will soon be forbidden, and for more on what else you should be avoiding, The CDC Says These Are the "Least Safe" Places You're Going Right Now.
The White House is banning most travel from India to the United States beginning this week.
In an announcement made on April 30, the White House said that it would begin banning most travel from India to the United States based on guidance issued by the CDC. The move comes as India continues to struggle with one of the worst active coronavirus outbreaks in the world, reporting more than 3,000 deaths a day and more than 400,000 new cases on April 29, The New York Times reports.
And for more on where cases are climbing domestically, These 6 States Are Seeing the Worst COVID Surges.
There are a few exemptions from the travel ban, including American citizens.
According to the White House's proclamation, the new set of travel restrictions would bar any foreign citizens who have visited India within the past 14 days from entering the United States. The travel ban does not apply to American citizens or lawful permanent residents of the U.S., as well as their spouses, young children, or siblings, or the parents of any citizen or permanent resident who is under the age of 21.
However, even those exempt from the travel ban are still subject to the current CDC guidelines for international arrivals to the United States, which require a negative COVID-19 test within three days before traveling. Those who are not vaccinated must also self-quarantine for a full week after their arrival. And for more on how you can keep yourself safe, The CDC Says If You See This at a Restaurant, Don't Go Inside.
Officials are concerned about a new variant that originated in India, which could affect fully vaccinated people.
But it's not just the sheer volume of cases that led to the White House banning travel from India to the U.S. Anecdotal evidence from doctors and news reports across India have claimed that a new highly contagious local variant of the virus, B.1.617, has been spreading that's even getting fully vaccinated people sick, The Times reports.
"The CDC advises, based on work by public health and scientific experts, that these variants have characteristics of concern, which may make them more easily transmitted and have the potential for reduced protection afforded by some vaccines," President Joe Biden said in the proclamation.
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Similar travel bans are still in place for other countries.
India is not the only country to have a travel ban in the United States. A similar order previously placed by the Biden administration in January also currently sets restrictions on other active or previous variant hotspots for the virus, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, Iran, China, and 26 countries within the European Union.
However, American citizens and lawful permanent residents are also exempt from these travel bans.
Some experts have cautioned the travel bans may not do the job the government hopes they will. "If the goal is to try to prevent introduction of that new variant, 6.1.7. that's circulating in India, I assure you it's here already," Scott Gottlieb, MD, former Food&Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, said on Face the Nation on May 2. "So we're not going to prevent its introduction. These travel restrictions could serve a purpose, but we need to be clear about what that purpose is right now. We still have restrictions in place against travel from China and the U.K. That doesn't make a lot of sense. So I'm not really sure what the overall strategy is around these continued travel restrictions that we have in place."
And for more on where you shouldn't be visiting post-shots, The CDC Is Warning You to Avoid This One Place, Even If You're Vaccinated.