With just hours before he leaves the White House, US President Donald Trump has made a huge statement by drastically changing the nation's travel rules, but the incoming Biden administration says it will reverse the changes.
Trump issued a proclamation lifting entry bans on most non-US citizens arriving from Brazil and much of Europe – despite the emergence of new Covid-19 variants in both parts of the world.
The current rules bar nearly all non-US citizens who within the last 14 days have been in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the 26 countries of the Schengen area in Europe that allow travel across open borders.
Trump intends for the new rules to come into effect from January 26. They state that anyone coming into the country on an international flight must have a negative coronavirus test or proof of recovery from Covid.
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"This action is the best way to continue protecting Americans from Covid-19 while enabling travel to resume safely," Trump said in a statement released by the White House.
China and Iran are still barred, Trump said, because both nations "repeatedly have failed to co-operate with the United States public health authorities and to share timely, accurate information about the spread of the virus".
The incoming Biden administration immediately responded to the announcement, pledging to reverse the move. "On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions," incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki wrote on Twitter.
The United States is nearing 400,000 total Covid-19 deaths, and new daily cases have reached record highs.
Joe Biden will be sworn in as the new president on Thursday.