According to the White House, considering the development of the delta variant, the US has no intentions to ease travel restrictions at this time.
The decision implies that the country’s present travel restrictions, which prevent persons from the European Schengen area, the United Kingdom, and other countries from entering, will be maintained.
“Given where we are today … with the delta variant, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, stated at a press conference on Monday. “The more transmissible delta variant is spreading both here and around the world. Driven by the delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead.”
The delta variant currently accounts for around 83 percent of cases nationwide, resulting in an increase in COVID-19 cases in the United States. Cases have surged 171% in the last two weeks across the country, with the death rate jumping 19% from the previous week.
The announcement comes only one week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans to avoid travelling to the United Kingdom due to an increase in coronavirus cases. “They will evaluate and make recommendations based on health data,” Psaki said of the CDC.
Travel restrictions were first implemented in March 2020 to impede the spread of COVID-19, and they were reinstated by President Joe Biden in January when then-President Donald Trump revoked them days before his tenure ended. Most travellers are still barred from entering the nation if they are from the following countries: China, Iran, European Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City), United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), Republic of Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and India.
The decision to maintain the ban comes just one month after the European Union added the United States to a list of countries whose travel restrictions should be gradually lifted. Despite Canada’s plans to reopen its borders to vaccinated American tourists on August 9, the US has prolonged land border restrictions on non-essential travel until August 21.
Other countries and tourist sector representatives have been pressuring the Biden administration to relax travel restrictions. On July 15, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed Biden about removing travel restrictions in the United States, and several airlines have asked the government to do so.
Psaki said Friday that there are “ongoing working groups” focused on how to reopen foreign travel into the United States if airlines adopt vaccine passports or vaccine mandates. “There are a range of topics in those discussions that are ongoing,” Psaki said. “The president receives regular briefings on them, but we rely on public health and medical advice on when we’re going to determine changes to be made.”