'No time to waste': Joe Biden's first Covid act amid 15 new orders
US President Joe Biden is wasting no time in the top job and has signed a raft of executive orders just hours after his inauguration.
On Wednesday (local time) Biden began signing 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations – of which 15 were executive actions addressing the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and racial inequality.
He also undid some policies that were put in place during Donald Trump’s four-year term.
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The first order Biden signed was to mandate the wearing of face masks and social distancing in federal buildings and on all federal lands amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is going to be the first of many,” Biden told reporters as he signed the first orders.
“There’s no time to waste, get to work immediately.”
He added he would be signing a number of orders over the next several days, with the first an attempt to start combating the virus.
“These are all just starting points, and we’re in the process of rebuilding the economy,” he said.
“We’ll do what I said throughout the campaign and we’ll be running that rebuild in the backbone of the country, the middle class.
“I think some of the things we’re going to be doing are bold and vital and there’s no time to start like today.”
Biden undoes Trump’s presidential decisions
One of the orders Biden signed on his first day was to rejoin the Paris climate accord as of Wednesday.
Trump pulled out of the climate accord in 2017 in a bold move he claimed protected American jobs, companies and workers.
Climate change have become an issue of contention between the US and its Western allies since Trump removed the US from the agreement.
The Paris Agreement commits signatories to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, which is blamed for melting ice caps and glaciers, rising sea levels and more violent weather events.
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In another undoing of Trump’s work, Biden has ended a national emergency declaration that was the basis for diverting some federal funds to build a wall along the US-Mexico border – a major pledge in Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
Biden has also moved to end a travel ban Trump put in place on some majority-Muslim countries.
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