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US House votes to end COVID vaccine requirement for foreign air travellers

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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to end requiring most foreign air travelers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the few remaining pandemic travel restrictions still in place.

The vote was 227 to 201 with seven Democrats joining Republicans. No Republicans voted against the bill.

The Biden administration in June dropped the requirement for people arriving in the US by air to test negative for COVID, but did not lift the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination requirements for most of foreign travellers.

The White House said Tuesday it was against the bill saying the vaccine requirement “allowed loved ones around the world to come together while reducing the spread of COVID-19 and the burden it places on the health care system in the United States.” . It is unclear whether the Senate will accept the bill.

The White House plans to end the COVID public health emergency on May 11. “As we near the end of the public health emergency, the administration will review all relevant policies, including this one,” the White House said.

The CDC says vaccines continue to be the most important public health tool for fighting COVID-19 and recommends all travelers get vaccinated.

The US Travel Association said “the need for this requirement is long past, and we appreciate the bipartisan action by the US House to end this outdated policy … The United States is the only country that has maintained this politics”.

Currently, adult visitors to the United States who are not citizens or permanent residents are required to show proof of vaccination before boarding a flight, with some limited exceptions.

Republican Rep. Thomas Massie introduced the measure to lift the vaccine mandate.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Stephen Coates)