A bit over a week ago, President Joe Biden met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and during a press conference he was asked about US-imposed travel bans being lifted. For context, the United States has a variety of travel bans preventing non-Americans from entering the country if they’ve been in certain foreign countries in the past 14 days. Currently there are travel bans against Brazil, China, India, the Schengen Zone, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, among other countries.
In response to the question, Biden stated that discussions are “in process now,” and that he expects to be able to answer “within the next several days what is likely to happen.” It was stated that Biden was waiting to hear from his coronavirus team as to what should be done.
Well, there’s now an update — it’s being reported that the United States will maintain its existing travel restrictions at this point due to the delta variant.
That’s not good news for many people. Now, personally I wouldn’t read too much into this:
- Biden promised to provide an update, so this is simply that update, and means that restrictions won’t be lifted right now
- I wouldn’t interpret this to mean that restrictions couldn’t be lifted in the next several weeks or next few months
- I still wouldn’t rule out the possibility of at least some restrictions being eased in late summer or early fall
Personally I don’t follow the logic of the Biden administration:
- Last we heard, the CDC has stated that the variant cases make up an estimated 83% of current infections in the United States, so it’s not about keeping the variant out of the country
- While vaccinated people are in part getting infected with coronavirus, the vaccines are still working quite well against serious illness and hospitalization, even for delta variant cases
- Americans have had access to vaccines for months, and everyone who has wanted to get vaccinated has had the opportunity to do so; is this just about waiting around hoping more people will choose to get vaccinated, or…?
- Unlike other countries, the United States still hasn’t revised entry restrictions based on vaccination status
As I’ve often stated, the problem is that travel goes beyond casual tourism. There are families and close friends that have been kept apart for a long time, with no end in sight.
For the time being the United States won’t lift its current travel restrictions, citing the delta variant. Personally I wouldn’t get too discouraged by this — the policy could change in the coming weeks or months, so I don’t necessarily take this to mean that current restrictions will necessarily remain in place that much longer.
Americans recently became eligible to travel to most European countries thanks to low infection rates in the United States. However, with the pace at which cases have been increasing, I’d expect the United States to soon fall off the EU’s “green list” again.
What do you make of the US not lifting foreign travel bans?
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)