The White House on new vaccine rules, travel restrictions

The White House said Thursday "there is not a goal" that it is trying to reach with the announcement of strict new testing, masking and distancing requirements for federal employees who can’t — or won’t — show they’ve been vaccinated.

Speaking at the White House briefing, deputy White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the point in the new requirements is to "get our message out there and make sure people are getting vaccinated."

"That is what the science tells us. That’s how we’re going to curb this pandemic, is making sure that people get vaccinated," she said.

The comments come as President Joe Biden announces new rules for federal employees that will require them to attest to their vaccination status or wear a mask and undergo regular COVID testing.

Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration has no plans to mandate vaccinations on a wide scale for employees of private companies, saying those companies "have the flexibility… to put in mandates that work for them."

The deputy press secretary also said the White House plans to maintain the existing travel restrictions for intenational travelers for the forseeable future, given the spread of the more transmissable Delta varient.

"The administration understands the importance of international travel and is united in wanting to reopen the international travel in a safe and sustainable manner," Jean-Perre said, but added with cases "rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue to increase in the weeks ahead," the travel restrictions will remain in place.

Finally, Jean-Pierre was asked about the stalled Iran nuclear talks and said while the timing for the seventh round has not yet been announced, the administration "has demonstrated time and again that we’re prepared to move forward with a mutual return to the compliance with the jackpot, the Iran nuclear deal."

She said when Iran’s presidential transition process is complete, the administration is "prepared to ….return to Vienna to continue with our talks."