UPDATED 10:15 AM PT – Friday, January 22, 2021
Joe Biden signed a slew of new of executive orders to address the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, he imposed new restrictions on travel to the U.S. in a reversal of President Trump’s policy, including a mask mandate at airports and commercial aircraft.
This contrasts from President Trump’s approach to a mask mandate in which he refused to chip away at citizen’s freedoms. Biden claimed the new restrictions could protect Americans from the COVID variant currently spreading in Europe.
“They’re more important than the vaccines because they take time to work,” he stated. “If we do this as Americans experts say by wearing a mask from now until April, we’d save more than 50,000 lives going forward, so I’m asking every American to mask up for the next 100 days.”
Meanwhile, travelers coming in from foreign countries must also test negative for COVID-19.
“In addition to wearing a mask, everyone flying to the United States from another country will need to test before they get on that plane, before they depart, and quarantine when they arrive in America,” Biden continued.
Wearing masks isn’t a partisan issue — it’s a patriotic act that can save countless lives. That’s why I signed an executive order today issuing a mask mandate on federal property. It’s time to mask up, America.
— President Biden (@POTUS) January 21, 2021
Additionally, another two executive orders are set to establish a “pandemic testing board” and a “health equity task force” to increase access to testing and health services to under-served communities. However, White House officials said the orders cannot be possible if Congress does not pass Biden’s $2 trillion coronavirus proposal.
The plan has faced criticism from conservatives for being a Democrat wish list. It’s reportedly already set to face hurdles from the Senate as Democrats will need 10 GOP votes to get past a potential filibuster.