World

Biden plans immediate orders on Covid-19, environment and economy

WASHINGTON US President Joe Biden plans to kick off his new administration with orders to restore the US to the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Mr Biden will sign 17 orders and actions hours after being sworn in as US leader to break from policies of departing President Donald Trump and set new paths on immigration, the environment, fighting Covid-19 and the economy, aides said.

In first-day moves, he will end Mr Trump's much-assailed ban on visitors from several majority-Muslim countries and halt construction of the wall that Mr Trump ordered on the US-Mexico border to stem illegal immigration, the aides said.

He will also set a mask mandate on federal properties to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Biden's staff said he wanted to hit the ground running, given the deep health and economic challenges facing the country.

 

Mr Jeff Zients, the new president's point man for fighting the pandemic, said Mr Biden would start by establishing an office of Covid-19 response inside the White House. A 100-day "masking challenge" will be led with a presidential order for wearing masks in all federal properties and activities, setting the standard for private companies, individual states and communities to follow suit, Mr Zients said.

Wednesday "starts a new day, a new, different approach to managing the country's response to Covid-19 crisis".

That includes reversing Mr Trump's decision to leave the WHO. To underscore Mr Biden's decision, Mr Zients said, leading US coronavirus expert Anthony Fauci will lead a delegation to take part in the WHO Executive Board meeting today.

Ms Gina McCarthy, the new administration's chief climate adviser, said returning to the 2016 Paris accord was essential to making fighting climate change a central tenet of the Biden administration policy.

Mr Biden will also reverse Mr Trump's decisions to ease emissions and efficiency standards.

Other actions will require a government-wide, proactive equality effort for minority groups in hiring, contracting, and service.

"The President-elect has promised to root out systemic racism from our institutions," said Ms Susan Rice, his Domestic Policy Council director. - AFP

WORLD