Not So Fast: Trump Travel Bans Unlikely To End

Filed Under: Travel

Well this is going to get interesting. President Trump plans to end some of the travel restrictions he put into place last spring, but it would appear that President-Elect Biden plans to reinstate them.

President Trump lifting travel bans on January 26

Reuters is reporting that President Trump will be ending the current coronavirus travel bans as of January 26, 2021. Specifically, the travel bans against the European Union, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and Brazil, will be lifted (meanwhile travel bans against China will stay in place).

According to Trump’s plans, the travel bans will end as of the same date that the US will start requiring all US-bound international travelers to provide a negative coronavirus test result taken within three days of travel.

We had heard rumors that this was under consideration going as far back as November 2020, and it seems like it’s now finally happening… or is it?

President Trump intends to lift the Brazil & Europe travel ban

President-Elect Biden plans to reinstate travel bans

While President-Elect Biden plans to lift the Muslim travel ban on his first day in office, the soon-to-be White House Press Secretary notes that the administration doesn’t support the lifting of the Brazil and Europe travel bans as of January 26.

Not only that, but President-Elect Biden plans to “strengthen public health measures around international travel.” Only time will tell what that looks like, though it sounds like we should expect more restrictions, rather than fewer.

The dynamics here are interesting. Trump kept these restrictions in place since the spring, and is now ending them six days after he leaves office, but they’ll never see the light of day. Is Trump doing this to put Biden on the spot and make it seem like he’s adding restrictions, or what’s the motive here? Why did he wait until now?

President-Elect Biden plans to reinstate these restrictions

What new international travel restrictions could we see?

It’s noted that Biden plans to “strengthen public health measures around international travel.” One has to wonder what exactly that could look like, beyond the new coronavirus testing requirement for all arriving international travelers:

  • Will we see the US ban all foreigners from entering the US?
  • Will the US government issue some sort of a notice demanding no international travel, in a way that probably isn’t legally binding?
  • Will some sort of a quarantine upon arrival in the US either be required, or be strongly recommended?

Those are the only possible explanations I can come up with.

Could we see the US try to ban all international travel?

Regardless, Americans won’t be able to travel to Europe

Even if the US were to lift its travel bans, it’s important to note that this wouldn’t mean that Americans would be able to visit the European Union.

The European Union didn’t ban Americans as some act of reciprocity. Rather the European Union only allows visitors from a very limited number of countries based on infection rates in those countries, and the US doesn’t make the cut.

Personally I wouldn’t expect the European Union to change its policy anytime soon, given infection rates both in the US and Europe. I’m sure at some point the rule will change and maybe travel with testing will be allowed, though I wouldn’t expect that in the coming months. Personally I’d be surprised if Americans could visit the European Union before the second half of 2021, at the very earliest.

Meanwhile other countries will likely maintain their same rules — Brazil allows American visitors with proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of travel, while the UK allows Americans with a 10 day quarantine (or five day quarantine with testing).

Don’t expect you’ll be able to travel to much of Europe as an American

My take on these travel ban updates

As I’ve stated before, I’ve found these travel bans to be arbitrary and silly. It’s one thing that they were introduced in the first place, but the fact that they were kept around made no sense.

For example, over the summer the US didn’t welcome visitors from Germany, even though infection rates there were a fraction of here. Meanwhile visitors from all kinds of countries with much higher infection rates were allowed in the US. And all of these restrictions remained while the US did little else to stop the spread of coronavirus.

I’ll reserve judgment on this until we actually hear what Biden’s plan is for international travel:

  • If there are going to be travel restrictions, I hope they’re a bit more logical and consistent, and based on ongoing infection rates rather than, well, who knows
  • If Biden wants to strengthen rules around international travel, then I can appreciate not wanting to have restrictions be removed, only for new restrictions to be put into place, even if restrictions are different
  • If we’re at a point where we’re trying to manage coronavirus and significantly reduce cases, then I could see value in having policies that discourage all kinds of travel

We’ll have to see how this plays out, though I hope that we see a logical, thoughtful, and consistent approach to travel restrictions, whatever they may be.

I hope there’s some consistency & logic around travel restrictions

Bottom line

President Trump plans to lift Europe and Brazil travel bans as of January 26, which is the same date that the US will start requiring testing for arriving international travelers. However, it would appear that President-Elect Biden isn’t in agreement with this, and will even introduce stricter international travel restrictions.

So for now we’ll have to mark this as “developing.”

  1. With a new potential job as CEO of American, Trump had to make this happen now. He has his eye on one thing, ‘Make American Great Again.” Doug Parker’s hands are small. Trump will show him how to build a wall around an airline, divide its employees, and incite a coup at the Dallas headquarters in no time.

  2. I thought travel to/from Brazil is allowed for US citizens? Obviously not recommended and COVID test required both ways but someone please confirm? I am traveling for work March 26th. Thank you!

  3. Trump appears to be replacing a ban with testing.

    CNN spins the news only as Trump lifting restrictions, hinting that Trump is evil for harming the public. OMAAT is not biased like CNN. So sad when a major news source becomes like a propaganda bureau of the Democrats or any party, not that the Democrats are evil, only CNN.

    Trump is an idiot but this move has merit. If Biden chooses a different method of pandemic control, that is his call. Biden will meet his 100M shots in 100 days because that is the current pace.

  4. “Accordingly, the Secretary has advised me to remove the restrictions applicable to the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and the Federative Republic of Brazil, while leaving in place the restrictions applicable to the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

    China: Thanks, we want our citizens to be alive for a little while longer.

  5. So I am travelling to Iran due to urgent family circumstances in the coming weeks. Am a dual citizen (US +IR). Am assuming there is no way for Biden to actually ban all travel the way, say Australia and New Zealand have done, right? Am fine with more restrictions (e.g. testing, quarantine, etc.) but an outright ban is not in the cards, right? Or is it?

  6. Yesterday the Australian Chief Health Officer said the Australian travel ban is likely to stay for the rest of 2021.

    Europe’s experience with travel during the summer resulted in this winter’s disaster.

    I’m assuming international travel is off for all of us till 2022.

  7. July 22, 2020: House Democrats just passed a bill to repeal Trump’s travel bans

    And now, that people can get tested and there is a vaccine, let’s keep the ban in place. No comments.

  8. @Victoria,

    Yes travel to/from Brazil is allowed for US citizens. But instead of listening to me (or anyone on this website) it would be much smarter to always look up your country of intended travel on the Dept of State webpage.

  9. Trump may have been hesitant to lift the restrictions to keep the point that he took action to block travel from high risk areas. Since it wouldn’t be as nessisary with testing, lifting it now makes sense for him.

  10. What concerns me is the incoming administration wanting to “strengthen public health measures around international travel.” I hope that it is nothing more than the required COVID test for air travel.

    As the WHO and public health policy told everyone prior to the pandemic, travel bans should not be used as part of the strategy against viruses.

  11. @Andrew Chan: Yes. We want the people to live longer, and now there is a hope because of the useless Trump will finally step down, he spread the virus by not doing anything to control it and letting Americans to travel everywhere allowing them to spread disease to other countries.

  12. ” Is Trump doing this to put Biden on the spot and make it seem like he’s adding restrictions,” Of course he is. Not to mention we would love more variants coming in from UK and Brazil (which has an even worse variant) that would cause maximum devastation to the country. What’s tens of or maybe over 100 more thousand unnecessary deaths if it might give Trump a talking point. It’s pathetic how transparent this clown and his administration are. The testing is inadequate to stop the cases coming in and they know that.

  13. “As the WHO and public health policy told everyone prior to the pandemic, travel bans should not be used as part of the strategy against viruses.” The WHO has really dropped the ball on this pandemic, so their opinion doesn’t carry a whole lot of weight especially when it comes to countries with a high number of cases involving a variant that is not pervasive in the US.

  14. Re bands from UK/EU etc, With the UK now having more vaccine, then most countries(apart from Isreal) plus EU also doing well, the death rates will 20th jan 2021, along with people catching cv19 should peak, In the middle of Feb, we should see cases coming down, if no new variant, and people keep using masks, staying apart etc. I believe , that a card ,to show you have been for vaccine , will do , as well as testing(not too sure if you could have vaccine and be a carrier)In any event lets hope we can get rid of this terrible Covid, get back to normal> find who caused the Virus, and make them pay,In the meantime, stay safe,don,t take any chances,

  15. I guess in many countries around the world, it’s the one measure that federal authorities can decide on, implement and actually control – as compared to things like trying put a threshold on the number of people you can meet in private etc.

    It is thus abused as a symbol that authorities are “doing something” in the wake of a catastrophe, and it is wayyy easier to outright ban travel than to implement a working regimen for testing & quarantine so that at least families can be re-united, visa holders can get back to the place where they live, work & pay taxes.

  16. Not too unexpected (from either administration), but in this point in time w/ widespread testing and widespread community spread in the US, one has to wonder if a travel ban really makes a difference. I would TOTALLY support it if the US had low infection rates (like Taiwain, China, Australia, and so forth), but surely this won’t reduce infection rates or hospitalizations in the US. With regards to “strengthen public health measures around international travel”, I hope that it just means more testing. Regardless, I really, really, really hope that I – as an EU citizen – will be able to travel as a tourist to the US this summer. If I have to wait until 2022, I’ll lose my mind.

  17. “What concerns me is the incoming administration wanting to “strengthen public health measures around international travel.” I hope that it is nothing more than the required COVID test for air travel.”

    That caught my eye too. They’re even going to do it with interstate travel. Knowing the players, I expect more restrictions than just the test. I’ve taken two international trips in the past three months and had three more planned. I’m not doing the three after the latest testing announcement. Just too much hassle and uncertainty. On my last trip the purser stopped by to thank me for being a 1K and for my business on a purchased business class ticket. We talked a bit. They’re hurting. This is the last thing the airlines need.

  18. Here is why I hate American politics (coming as a true independent a social liberal and fiscal conservative). You guys remember when Biden and the dems chastised Trump for the travel bans the first time related to COVID. Now they are supporting them. This is the inherent problem with a two party system. You only win when the other party can’t get anything done. That’s why I like the parliamentary system (Specifically UK). A) So many parties they have work together. B) Since the ruling parties elect their leadership no Trump as a leader. Anyways politic rant of the day over.

    And yes of course Trump is trying to make things more difficult for Biden. Just like Clinton made the transition for Bush as hard as possible. If you ever want to read about it both Bush and Obama were real class acts (not being sarcastic) for their respective transitions to their successors.

  19. “Is Trump doing this to put Biden on the spot and make it seem like he’s adding restrictions, or what’s the motive here? Why did he wait until now?”

    Didn’t you answer within the post? “…which is the same date that the US will start requiring testing for arriving international travelers.”

  20. International travel is cooked for 2021 and maybe even 2022. You will see airlines pulling back in mass plans to re-establish routes. Here’s the kicker: Get ready for more draconian lock down measures until the US economy is so “f ed up” (and the dollar crashing) that there will be no choice to either open the fully open the economy/society or see massive social unrest.

    You already see the “Karens” and marxists screaming that we need lockdowns even with the vaccine. And an old man dumb/feeble enough to believe them. (And no I’m not a Trump supporter but what we have coming isn’t much better).

  21. If you’re going to build on a post first published a day or two ago, can you please just do an italicized update section at the top or some other format so we can quickly jump to the new info you’ve added versus re-reading the full thing again?

  22. Wait a minute…if Biden endorses travel bans doesn’t that make him a Xenophobe?? I’m not exactly sure how this works but I recall that every time President Trump tried to ban any sort of travel for any reason everyone acted like they were disgusted by the ban and then started to use every kind of phobia and “ist” word to describe his actions.
    Would anyone care to explain this to me on how it is acceptable for Joe to ban countless people who are trying to come to the US to enjoy everything that this country has to offer. I am pretty sure that open borders is what we want so why have restrictions. If someone travels here and they are or become sick we shouldn’t worry as we offer free health care to everyone already. We have a caravan of 1,000 people headed to the US right now. Are they going to be turned away or are we just restricting people who want to travel to the US legally?

  23. I do not expect travel restrictions to go away, but I hope they will be designed in a more meaningful way, i.e. in a way that helps to prevent spreading the virus, rather than to punish political enemies.

    For instance, Finland is part of the Schengen space and had virtually no cases througout – but were included in the US travel ban. On the other hand side, all Central and South American countries (except Brazil) never to banned by the US, although they sometimes had extremely high numbers.

    The EU ban for US citizens is basically a retaliation and will go away, as soon as the US take more meaningful measures.

  24. @Andy: Really? So European countries and Brazil are political enemies? Trump and the Brazilian president became very good friends. You should learn some History and Geography to learn who are the enemies.

  25. @sigs99
    While many would see issues with China’s approach to economic and political engagement, it is xenophobic or at the very least politically motivated for the US to ban travel from China stating that it is due to COVID, and allow the same travel from Brazil (who have soaring infection rates and a more infectious version of the virus) because there is no scientific reason for such a ban.

    Democrat or Republican should be irrelevant to these decisions. It’s simple for Biden – justify any travel restrictions based on the science at the time and this whole travel ban issue goes away.

    If he does that then you may see lots of Chinese, Korean but not Brazilians, British or Japanese tourists “com[ing] to the US to enjoy everything that this country has to offer”.

  26. Haha now that Biden wants to keep the restrictions in place where are all you libtards now? Happy as can be and will be giving him credit. Hell, even encouraging more restrictions on travel, but funny when trump was doing it, it was racist, horrible, stupid, you name it. How quickly the narrative changes…

  27. I bet it was an attempt to drive vaccine tourism to his Florida club. He’s already manipulated Warp Speed into increasing Florida’s haul by changing the state allocations to rely on population % over age 65. Coupled with Florida’s lack of residency verification it would’ve increased his bottom line. The only thing he really cares about is $.

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