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Trump orders lifting some COVID travel restrictions, Biden team says nope

Outgoing president says entry curbs from much of Europe and Brazil to be lifted January 26, but spokesperson for president-elect says plans are actually to tighten restrictions

Travelers walk through the nearly empty JetBlue terminal at Logan Airport, Friday Nov. 20, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Travelers walk through the nearly empty JetBlue terminal at Logan Airport, Friday Nov. 20, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

WASHINGTON — US President-elect Joe Biden’s spokeswoman quickly dismissed Donald Trump’s announcement Monday that a Covid-19 ban on travelers arriving from much of Europe and Brazil would be lifted, underlining the fractious transition of power.

“On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26,” tweeted Jen Psaki, Biden’s press secretary.

“In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” she added.

Just minutes prior to Psaki’s tweet, President Trump said in a statement he would lift the travel ban on Europe and Brazil. Travel bans for China and Iran would remain in place, he said.

Both statements come days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that all air passengers bound for the US are required to test negative for Covid-19 within three days of their departure.

Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, after a rocky handover of power.

Trump for months had refused to accept the outcome of the November 3 election, baselessly insisting the vote had been rigged and ignoring court rulings to the contrary.

He denied Biden’s team access to funds and resources and has not met with him, as is customary in presidential transitions.

Trump is also set to become the first outgoing president in 152 years not to join his successor at the inauguration ceremony.

As of Monday, the US had recorded more than 24 million cases of Covid-19, with nearly 400,000 deaths.

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