WASHINGTON - In his final days in office, President Donald Trump issued a new proclamation on Monday lifting coronavirus-related bans on travel from Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and much of Europe as the U.S. inches towards 400,000 COVID-19 deaths.
The elimination of the travel bans includes 26 nations within the Schengen Area of Europe.
But shortly after the release of Trump’s order, President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki contradicted Trump, saying Biden’s administration "does not intend to lift these restrictions."
"With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel," Psaki tweeted.
Psaki added that under Biden’s administration, the U.S. would "strengthen public health measures around international travel."
Trump, who throughout his presidency has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, wrote in the proclamation that his administration took actions to prevent the spread of the disease by banning entry from countries that experienced severe COVID-19 spikes.
"In the wake of the unprecedented outbreak of COVID–19 in the United States, I took action to suspend and limit the entry of aliens recently present in certain foreign jurisdictions where significant COVID–19 outbreaks had occurred," Trump wrote in the proclamation posted on the White House website.
US President Donald Trump steps off Marine One to board Air Force One before departing Harlingen, Texas on January 12, 2021.
Despite nearly two-thirds of American states seeing a rise in the COVID-19 death toll amid a winter surge, Trump wrote that a new order by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to require all international travelers present proof of a negative COVID-19 test would help slow the spread of the disease that has now infected more than 24 million Americans.
"On January 12, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order, effective January 26, 2021, requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving from a foreign country to the United States," the proclamation read.
"The Secretary has explained that this action will help to prevent air passengers from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and the Federative Republic of Brazil from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 into the United States, as it is the Secretary’s understanding that the vast majority of persons entering the United States from these jurisdictions do so by air."