The Department of Transportation issued an order Tuesday proposing restrictions on the sale of passenger airline tickets between the U.S. and Belarus.

Why it matters: The move follows Belarus’ decision last month to divert a commercial Ryanair flight in order to detain journalist and opposition leader Raman Pratasevich.

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  • In the aftermath of the incident, President Biden said his administration was developing “appropriate options” to hold Belarus accountable, but the U.S. didn’t immediately impose restrictions.

  • Belarus’ actions were described as a “hijacking” by some European leaders and condemned by the European Council.

What they’re saying: “DOT’s order is premised on the Department of State’s determination that, in light of the diversion of Ryanair flight 4978, it is in the foreign policy interests of the United States to limit transportation between the United States and Belarus,” the department said in a statement Tuesday.

  • “The prohibition would provide the ability for the U.S. Government to make case-by-case exceptions for any transportation deemed to be in the national interest of the United States, including on humanitarian or national security grounds,” it added.

  • The prohibition would also apply to “interline” air travel in which tickets are booked through one airline and contain flights operated by multiple airlines, according to the DOT.

  • The order is open for public comment until Thursday.

Yes, but: The decision to restrict airline ticket sales is “mostly symbolic” since “relatively few tickets are purchased for travel to Belarus from U.S.-based travel services,” Reuters notes.

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(Recasts with issuance of order, State Department determination)

WASHINGTON, June 29 (Reuters) – The U.S. Transportation Department on Tuesday issued an order to ban ticket sales for air travel between the United States and Belarus, acting after Minsk forced a Ryanair flight to land and arrested a dissident journalist who was aboard.

In issuing the order, the Transportation Department said the U.S. State Department had determined that limiting travel between the United States and Belarus was in Washington’s foreign policy interest in light of the diversion of the Ryanair flight.

It said the order would extend to “interline” travel in which tickets are purchased through one airline that contain flights operated by multiple airlines.

The order – a step that has been under consideration by the U.S. government for several weeks – is mostly symbolic since relatively few tickets are purchased for travel to Belarus from U.S.-based travel services.

It is open for public comment until July 1.

After the May 23 forced landing of the Ryanair flight, which was en route from Athens to Vilnius, the U.S. government advised passenger airlines to use “extreme caution” when flying over Belarus. At the time, however, the United States stopped short of imposing any restrictions.

The “Notice to Airmen” does not apply to cargo carriers such as United Parcel Service and Fedex Corp that fly over Belarus.

United Airlines flies a route to India that sometimes is routed near Belarus, but no other U.S. passenger carrier typically flies through the former Soviet republic’s airspace. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

The Biden administration will restrict travel from India beginning Tuesday, the White House said Friday, as concerns mount over a record surge in coronavirus cases there.

“On the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the administration will restrict travel from India,” White House press secretary

Jen Psaki

said. “The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high Covid-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India.”

The White House said the ban on travel from India wouldn’t apply to U.S. citizens, permanent residents or their spouses. Other individuals that might qualify for exemptions include humanitarian workers, certain journalists and academics and students commencing studies in the fall, according to a determination by the State Department for travelers deemed to be in U.S. national interests. The exceptions mirror those for other countries affected by pandemic-related travel restrictions.

A spokesman for the Indian Embassy had no immediate comment.

The announcement comes as India set a global record for new infections, prompting several countries to impose similar travel restrictions. The U.K., Canada, Germany, France and Australia were among the growing list of countries to ban most travelers from India in recent weeks.

India reported another world record of 401,993 new daily infections on Saturday, an increase from Friday’s 386,452 cases. The death toll stood at 211,853 as of Saturday, but public health experts believe total fatalities to be undercounted.

President Biden is taking the advice of health authorities to curb visits from India to the U.S.



Photo:

evelyn hockstein/Reuters

The U.S. and other governments have ramped up humanitarian assistance to India amid the crisis, which has overwhelmed the country’s hospitals and led to many people dying on the pavement waiting to be seen. India has also experienced a massive shortage in oxygen and related supplies, and the government is struggling to vaccinate people amid the surge.

Vice President

Kamala Harris,

the first person of Indian descent to serve in the role, told reporters Friday the wave in India was “a great tragedy.”

“We as a country have made a commitment to the people of India to support them,” Ms. Harris said. “But it is tragic.”

The State Department said Friday it would send one of its most senior diplomats to India. Daniel Smith, who served as acting secretary of state in January before

Antony Blinken

was confirmed, will serve as interim chargé d’affaires in India. The move “underscores U.S. commitment to working with India to advance our shared priorities, including the well-being of the Indian and American people during the pandemic crisis,” department spokesman

Ned Price

said.

The Biden administration initially drew criticism for being slow to respond to the situation, but has since announced more than $100 million in emergency relief.

Ms. Psaki said two U.S. military assistance flights carrying supplies had landed in India on Friday. The initial shipments included hundreds of oxygen cylinders, regulators and pulse oximeters, roughly 184,000 rapid diagnostic tests and approximately 84,000 N95 masks, she said.

The overall U.S. aid package announced by the

By ZEKE MILLER, DARLENE SUPERVILLE and MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. will restrict travel from India starting Tuesday, the White House said Friday, citing a devastating rise in COVID-19 cases in the country and the emergence of potentially dangerous variants of the coronavirus.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden’s administration made the determination on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biden signed a proclamation barring entry to most foreigners who have been in India in the past 14 days, with exceptions for legal permanent residents, spouses and close family members of U.S. citizens, and some others. He cited the spread of the virus and its variants.

“The CDC advises, based on work by public health and scientific experts, that these variants have characteristics of concern, which may make them more easily transmitted and have the potential for reduced protection afforded by some vaccines,” Biden said in the proclamation.

He said the CDC has concluded that “proactive measures” are needed to protect public health from travelers from India.

With 386,452 new cases, India now has reported more than 18.7 million since the pandemic began, second only to the United States. The Health Ministry on Friday also reported 3,498 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 208,330. Experts believe both figures are an undercount.

Biden spoke Monday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the growing health crisis and pledged to immediately send assistance. This week, the U.S. began delivering therapeutics, rapid virus tests and oxygen to India, along with some materials needed for India to boost its domestic production of COVID-19 vaccines. Additionally, a CDC team of public health experts was expected to be on the ground soon to help Indian health officials move to slow the spread of the virus.

Vice President Kamila Harris, who is of Indian descent, called the situation in India a “great tragedy” and said she hadn’t spoken to any of her relatives still living there since the news of the travel ban was made public. She emphasized America’s “longstanding, decades-long relationship” with the country in speaking about the U.S. aid to help alleviate some of the crisis there.

“We have a responsibility as the United States, and particularly with people we have partnered with over the years, to step up when people are in a time of need,” she said.

The White House waited on the CDC recommendation before moving to restrict travel, noting that the U.S. already requires negative tests and quarantines for all international travelers. Other restrictions are in place on travel from China, Iran, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil and South Africa, which are or have been hotspots for the coronavirus.

There was no immediate comment on the new limits from the State Department, which on Thursday reissued a warning to Americans against traveling to India and said those already in the country should consider leaving by commercial means. That warning was accompanied by

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will restrict travel from India starting Tuesday on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as India battles a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections.

The policy will not apply to American citizens, lawful permanent residents or other exempted individuals, according to a White House official. People in those categories will still have to test negative prior to travel, quarantine if unvaccinated and retest as negative upon entering the U.S., as is required for all international travelers.

“The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in the India,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France and New Zealand, among other countries, have imposed similar travel restrictions on India in recent days.

The new travel restrictions underscore the challenges of tackling the coronavirus pandemic on a global scale, even as progress has been made in the United States.

India surpassed 200,000 Covid-19 deaths this week, becoming only the fourth country to do so, with some experts warning that the death toll is likely higher than reported. Overall, India has recorded about 18 million cases, second only to the United States with more than 32 million cases.

The surge in new infections has stretched India’s hospitals to the breaking point, leading to a shortage in oxygen, hospital beds and other critical supplies.

Vice President Kamala Harris touched upon the restrictions in comments to reporters Friday afternoon.

“As it relates to the people of India, we have a long-standing, decades-old relationship with India, particularly when it comes to public health issues,” Harris said, adding that she had not spoken to her extended family in India since the restrictions were announced.

Although India is one of the world’s largest vaccine producers, the country has struggled to procure enough to inoculate its population of nearly 1.4 billion people. Experts have warned that while the U.S. and other wealthy countries race ahead in their vaccination rollouts, global vaccine inequality could prolong the pandemic for everyone as virus variants mutate and could be more infectious and evade Western vaccines.

Biden spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, and administration officials said they are sending a range of supplies to the country, including oxygen equipment, raw materials used in vaccine production, rapid testing kits and the treatment remdesivir.

Psaki said two U.S. military flights arrived in India on Friday carrying oxygen cylinders, rapid diagnostic tests, N95 masks and other supplies. Harris told reporters she hoped the supplies would “provide some level of relief.”

In January, Biden reinstated similar travel restrictions on most non-U.S. travelers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders and issued new restrictions on travel from South Africa.

“On the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration will restrict travel from India starting immediately,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Friday. “The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in the India. The policy will take effect on Tuesday, May 4.”

The administration will issue a 212(f) order restricting entry into the US for foreign nationals who have been in India within the previous 14 days, a source familiar with the move said. Airlines have been told of the decision, a source said.

The new policy will take effect on Tuesday at 12:01 am ET.

The policy will not apply to American citizens, lawful permanent residents or other people with exemptions. As with all international travelers, individuals who fit that criteria traveling from India must still test negative prior to leaving the country, quarantine if they have not been vaccinated and test negative again upon reentering the US from India. The restrictions also do not apply to humanitarian workers.

The White House informed congressional offices on Friday of the move.

Before boarding Air Force Two on a tarmac in Kentucky on Friday afternoon, Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the travel restrictions.

Harris is the first Black and South Asian Vice President, with family members still living in Delhi, India. Asked what her sense is for people with loved ones in India who hear about restrictions and have concern, she said, “People are worried. No question. People are worried.”

“It is important to note, as I said earlier, that we have a responsibility as the United States in particular, as it relates to the people that we have partnered with over the years, to step up when people are in a time of need,” Harris continued. “And as it relates to the people of India, we have long standing decades old relationship with India, with the Indian people, in particular around public health issues.”

She added said that on Friday night, the US would be sending a plane of supplies, including oxygen, “with an expectation that that will provide some level of relief.”

India recorded 386,452 Covid-19 cases on Friday, another record daily rise of cases, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.

Friday’s tally is the ninth day in a row the country has added more than 300,000 cases a day, bringing the total number to more than 18.7 million. The country also reported 3,498 deaths, bringing the death toll to 208,330.

A day before the US’ upcoming travel restrictions on India were announced, India’s national airline, Air India, had said it was planning to reintroduce near pre-pandemic frequency of direct flights to the US in the first half of May. A number of countries — including the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada — have placed travel restrictions, ranging from quarantines to outright bans on travel from India.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization