The White House announced Wednesday it will require travelers from China to test negative for COVID-19 before arriving in the U.S. — a policy that will come less than two years after candidate Joe Biden suggested then-President Trump’s restrictions for trips from China were xenophobic. .
A federal official said the test requirement will begin on Jan. 5 and is necessary because of a lack of public data on China’s effectiveness in monitoring COVID-19. Travelers from China, regardless of nationality, will need to show a negative test taken no more than two days before their flight. Japan and India have imposed similar restrictions after China loosened its “zero-Covid” lockdown policies in recent weeks – and China requires travelers from the US to test negative.
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Trump in January 2020 announced a plan to restrict travel from China in response to the initial spread of the COVID-19 virus. Hours after the announcement, Biden, on the campaign trail in Iowa, said “this is not the time to be on the record for hysterical xenophobia and fear mongering by Donald Trump.” Biden used the same wording in a tweet the next day.
“We must lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia and fear-mongering,” Biden tweeted.
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Trump restricted travel from Europe in March 2020, to which Biden tweeted in response with a statement that “a wall will not stop the coronavirus.” However, in the following weeks, the Biden campaign changed its public position on the travel restrictions.
Biden’s team, weeks after the restrictions in Europe, claimed that his comments about Trump’s xenophobia were not related to travel policies.
“This was not about the coronavirus travel restrictions,” a campaign spokesman said Washington Post in that time. “Travel restrictions, when supported by science, supported by public health officials, and supported by a comprehensive strategy can be warranted. Travel restrictions can buy time; but here, the time they bought for preparation was wasted when Trump used it that to underestimate, rather. than the country ready for the disease.”
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The Biden campaign in April 2020 endorsed Trump’s restrictions on China.
“The science supported this ban, so [Biden] ditto,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said at the time.
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The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.