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The Fallout: White House to Begin Restricting Travel From India to the United States

The Fallout: White House to Begin Restricting Travel From India to the United States

Staff Writer
  • The announcement comes as India set a global record for new infections, prompting several countries like the U.K., Canada, Germany, France and Australia, to impose similar travel restrictions.

The Biden administration said today (April 30) that it would begin restricting travel to the United States from India, as the country is battling with a devastating and deadly second surge of the coronavirus outbreak. As per a statement issued by Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, the decision was made on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It would go into effect on May 4. “The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high Covid-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India,” she said. 

The administration will issue a 212(f) order restricting entry into the U.S. for foreign nationals who have been in India within the previous 14 days, a source familiar with the move told CNN.

The policy will not apply to American citizens, lawful permanent residents or other people with exemptions. As with all international travelers, individuals who fit that criteria traveling from India must still test negative prior to leaving the country, quarantine if they have not been vaccinated and test negative again upon reentering the U.S. from India. The restrictions also do not apply to humanitarian workers.

The announcement comes as India set a global record for new infections, prompting several countries like the U.K., Canada, Germany, France and Australia, to impose similar travel restrictions. As per the Wall Street Journal, India reported another world record of 386,452 new daily infections on April 30, “bringing the country’s total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to more than 18 million.”

Earlier in the week, Biden pledged to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the U.S. would provide “a range of emergency assistance, including oxygen-related supplies, vaccine materials, and therapeutics.” Psaki said two U.S. military assistance flights carrying supplies had landed in India on April 30, with “hundreds of oxygen cylinders, regulator and pulse oximeters, roughly 184,000 rapid diagnostic tests and approximately 84,000 N95 masks.” The overall U.S. aid package announced by the White House  includes 15 million N95 masks, 1 million rapid diagnostic tests, thousands of oxygen-related supplies, therapeutics and materials to manufacture more vaccines.

Earlier, the State Department urged all Americans to leave India as the country is grappling with a deadly second wave of coronavirus. “Access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in India due to the surge in Covid-19 cases,” reads the April 28 advisory. The travel advisory comes as India faces one of the worst waves of coronavirus infections the world has seen since the start of the pandemic last year. “U.S. citizens who wish to depart India should take advantage of available commercial transportation options now. Direct flights between India and the United States are offered daily, with additional flight options available to U.S. citizens via transfers in Paris and Frankfurt.”

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Additionally, the State Department has authorized voluntary departures for the families of U.S. government employees working in India. A State Department spokesperson told The Washington Post that the authorization for families was made out of “an abundance of caution” as well as “current conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and diminishing commercial flight options.”

The spokesperson also said the State Department is reviewing whether to authorize departures for staff at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and its consulates.On April 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a level 4 travel health notice for India due to the surge in COVID-19 infections in the country.

“Because of the current situation in India, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to India,” the CDC said. And U.S citizens “who must travel to India are strongly urged to get fully vaccinated before travel and continue to take personal health safety measures to protect themselves, including practicing social or physical distancing, cleaning hands with soap/hand sanitizer, wearing masks, and avoiding crowded areas with poor ventilation.”

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