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Trump to lift some Covid travel restrictions, a move Biden quickly rejects

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President Donald Trump said Monday that he is ending Covid-19 travel restrictions for air travelers from Europe and Brazil, a move the incoming administration quickly rejected.

In a proclamation, Trump said the restrictions would be lifted Jan. 26, the same day a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order requiring negative tests for air travelers coming to the U.S. takes effect.

But by then, Joe Biden will be president, and his press secretary tweeted that the restrictions would remain in place.

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"With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel," said Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki. "... In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19."

The travel restrictions put in place last year prevented most people without U.S. citizenship or residency from traveling to the U.S. from the affected regions.

Trump's proclamation said the restrictions would be lifted for Europe and Brazil because the U.S. is confident that they will comply with an order requiring negative tests for those traveling by air to the U.S.

It leaves restrictions in place for China and Iran.

The CDC this month announced that starting Jan. 26, all air passengers from other countries would be required to test negative before coming to the U.S.

If the restrictions are lifted as in Trump's proclamation, travelers from the United Kingdom, the Schengen Area in Europe, Ireland and Brazil would still have to test negative.

But the current restrictions that bar non-U.S. citizens who have been to those countries within the last 14 days would be lifted, a White House official said.

Trump said he was leaving the restrictions in place for China and Iran in part because "their lack of cooperation with the United States thus far in combatting the pandemic, cast doubt on their cooperation" with the testing order.

The CDC in late December said all air travelers from the U.K. would be required to test negative before departing to the U.S. after a variant was discovered in the country that is believed to be more transmissible. It said Jan. 12 that the requirement would be expanded to include air passengers entering the U.S., effective Jan. 26.

The variant discovered in the U.K. had been detected in at least 10 states as of Wednesday, according to a CDC report last week. It is thought to be more transmissible but not any more deadly.

More than 2 million people around the world have died of Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking cases. The 2 million mark was passed Friday.

In the U.S., there have been more than 399,800 deaths and more than 24 million cases, according to an NBC News count of reports.