The United States has a variety of travel bans in place, preventing foreigners who have been in select countries from visiting the United States. Countries impacted by these travel bans including Brazil, China, India, the Schengen zone, and the United Kingdom, among others.
There have been a lot of questions about when reciprocal travel between the United States and United Kingdom will be allowed again, especially with the European Union now opening to Americans. According to the latest update, it sounds like we shouldn’t expect the situation with the United Kingdom to change anytime soon.
US plans to leave UK travel restrictions in place
We’ve heard in recent weeks that officials from the United States and United Kingdom are in discussions about possibly lifting border restrictions that are currently in place. This would include the United States allowing those from the United Kingdom to visit (currently there’s a blanket ban on this type of travel), and the United States being placed on the United Kingdom’s “green list” (this would allow Americans to visit without quarantining).
The Financial Times suggests that these talks aren’t going very well. According to unnamed sources, the United States isn’t planning on lifting travel restrictions against the United Kingdom anytime soon, and it’s believed that these talks will be extended into August and even September.
The United States is allegedly not planning on lifting travel restrictions against the United Kingdom for two major reasons:
- A spike of the Delta variant in the United Kingdom
- Uncertainty over the status of the AstraZeneca vaccine, especially when it comes to variants
It’s suggested that the United Kingdom is pushing for an agreement much more so than the United States, so in this case it’s the United States preventing anything from changing. Any policy change from the United States is complicated by the number of government organizations that are involved, including the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State Department, and even the Department of Transportation.
UK unlikely to change policy without reciprocity
The United Kingdom could place the United States on its “green list,” meaning that Americans could visit the United Kingdom without quarantining. Technically there’s no need for anything to be reciprocal here. However, this is where politics comes into play:
- Regardless of the epidemiological situation in the United States, in terms of optics it’s highly unlikely that the United Kingdom would place the United States on its “green list” without the United States lifting its travel ban
- The United Kingdom’s “green list” remains highly arbitrary and not based on any published metrics, making it all the easier for the United States to be left off the list
Many were expecting that we’d see travel restrictions between the United States and United Kingdom lifted any day now, though it seems that’s not the case. Reports suggest that at the absolute earliest it’s going to be late August or September (and possibly later than that) before travel restrictions between the two countries are lifted.
Apparently it’s the United States that’s most hesitant about lifting travel restrictions, due to the Delta variant and concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine. While the United Kingdom could lift restrictions against Americans without it being reciprocal, that seems unlikely to happen for political reasons.
While minor in the grand scheme of things, I’m curious to see if JetBlue moves forward with launching London flights in August, or if we see the timeline delayed.
Are you surprised how long it’s taking travel restrictions between the United States and United Kingdom to be lifted?