COVID-19 vaccine mandates lifted for foreign travellers and federal workers

The United States will end its COVID-19 vaccination requirements for international travellers and federal workers on May 11, as the coronavirus public-health emergency comes to an end. This decision means that most foreign air travellers will no longer be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and will not have to provide proof of vaccination upon request when entering the U.S. via land ports of entry and ferries.

The Biden administration had dropped its requirement that people arriving in the U.S. by air must test negative for COVID-19, but had kept in place Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination requirements for most foreign travellers. However, the rules had barred Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic from taking part in some U.S. tournaments as he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. From May 12, he will be able to freely enter and play in major American tournaments like the U.S. Open.

The Biden administration’s rules imposed in September 2021 requiring federal employees and contractors to be vaccinated or face firing or disciplinary action have not been enforced for over a year after a series of court rulings. A federal appeals court in March upheld a decision blocking enforcement of the employee vaccine requirement. The White House told federal agencies in October 2022 not to enforce the contractor vaccine requirements even after a nationwide injunction was lifted.

The Health and Human Services Department said it will start the process to end vaccination requirements for Head Start educators and government-certified health care facilities. With the end of the COVID-19 public-health emergency, the U.S. government appears to be taking a step back from vaccine mandates and moving towards individual choice and responsibility.


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