I’m curious if anyone can provide a reasonable explanation for this…
State Department lowers risk for UK travel
Here in the USA, the State Department publishes travel advisories, putting countries into one of four categories based on perceived risk:
- Level 1 is “exercise normal precautions”
- Level 2 is “exercise increased caution”
- Level 3 is “reconsider travel”
- Level 4 is “do not travel”
Recently a majority of countries in the world were given a “Level 4” rating, with the State Department warning people not to travel to those countries. I won’t argue the merits of that, because it’s besides the point. What’s interesting is that as of yesterday the UK has been lowered to a “Level 3” rating, meaning that Americans should only “reconsider travel” to the UK, rather than avoiding travel altogether.
In other words, the State Department considers the UK one of the safer countries to travel to. That’s well deserved when you consider how well the UK has done with coronavirus cases and vaccinations in recent months, and that the country is now seeing single-digit deaths many days.
Yet somehow the UK is on the USA’s travel ban list?
Despite how well the UK is doing with coronavirus, it’s one of the places on the USA’s travel ban list, along with the Schengen area, Brazil, South Africa, and India. This means that if you’ve been in the UK in the past 14 days you can’t travel to the USA, unless you’re a resident of the USA, or meet one of the other exceptions.
The travel ban against the UK was first introduced back in March 2020, when the UK did indeed see a fair number of coronavirus cases. Yet over a year later the UK is among the best countries in the world in terms of both cases and vaccinations, yet it remains on the travel ban list for the USA?
We always hear about “following the science,” but so often decisions clearly aren’t actually based on science. Or at least they’re based on outdated data.
To be clear, this has been an issue with both the previous and current administrations, where these kinds of bans are put in place, but then not actually updated to reflect reality:
- If this is about generally discouraging international travel, then maybe all countries should be put on the travel ban list, rather than just keeping the lists based on outdated data?
- The UK has received a lot of criticism for its “traffic light” system of travel restrictions, but that’s at least actually based on recent data, including infection rates and vaccinations
- By all accounts someone traveling from the UK to the USA isn’t higher risk than anyone already in the US, and arguably is lower risk, especially when you consider the pre-travel testing requirement
Why does the UK ban Americans, though?
Some might say “well this is just reciprocal, since the UK doesn’t allow Americans to visit.” Not quite:
- The UK doesn’t have a travel ban against people who have been in the USA, but rather has a quarantine requirement for anyone who isn’t on a list of “green” countries that don’t have this requirement
- Recently when the UK updated its list of countries there was speculation that the USA would be on the list, but that wasn’t the case; I do think there’s a political element to this, and the UK won’t lift restrictions if the USA still baselessly bans people from the UK
- The reality is that as of now the UK is doing significantly better than the USA in terms of coronavirus cases and deaths, though hopefully the situation in here continues to improve considerably in the coming weeks
Personally I think if the USA lifts the UK travel ban, we’ll see the USA added to the UK’s “green” list soon enough, assuming things continue to improve.
Somehow the USA continues to ban travelers from the UK, even though the UK is doing incredibly well with both vaccinations and coronavirus cases. While I’m no scientist or epidemiologist, I certainly can’t come up with any reason the UK should be on the same list as Brazil and India.
I totally get if the government is just generally trying to discourage travel, but at least make decisions based on current data. There had been rumors a while back that the USA would start lifting travel bans around mid-May. Here’s to hoping that this is actually the case, and that the UK travel ban is lifted in the coming days…
Can anyone make sense of the USA continuing to ban travelers from the UK?