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Biden issues new rules for international travelers

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In two weeks, most people traveling to the U.S. from overseas will have to provide proof of vaccination. It's all part of the reopening of international travel that had been shut down for more than a year. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith has new details.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: The White House announced the travel policy last month, but today they're out with new details about just how the vaccination requirement will work for air travel starting November 8. Here are the top lines. The vaccination requirement applies to foreign nationals visiting the U.S. for business or pleasure. They'll have to show proof to their airline - a paper vaccine card or digital proof of vaccination along with a negative COVID test. Kids under 18 don't have to show proof of vaccination, but they do have to get tested. That's because vaccines aren't widely available for children in most parts of the world.

The only vaccines that will qualify for travel to the U.S. are those authorized by the FDA and the World Health Organization. For the U.S. travel industry, which has been trying to bring back international tourism and business travel, this is all welcome news.

TORI EMERSON BARNES: Got to get those borders open. And I think having more detail around it helps us feel certain that that November 8 day will stick.

KEITH: Tori Emerson Barnes is with the U.S. Travel Association. She says getting all these details is a big help. As for whether airlines can handle being in the vaccine verification business, she's not worried since they were already verifying COVID test results. The reopening of travel from Europe, the U.K., India, China and other countries will make it possible for families and friends to finally reunite after all this time of pandemic separation. Barnes says it's a welcome development for the companies she represents.

EMERSON BARNES: I do think that this helps to save the holiday season.

KEITH: The U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico are also set to reopen in early November with a vaccine requirement, though the White House hasn't yet announced details of how that will work.

Tamara Keith, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BLUE MAN GROUP'S "TONE SPOKES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.