In June, the European Union officially recommended that its member states reopen their borders to American tourists after more than a year of tight restrictions. The United Kingdom has also placed the United States on an “amber” list, meaning U.S. travelers are allowed to enter, but must be quarantined for 10 days and show evidence of a negative coronavirus test.
However, residents of Europe’s Schengen area – spanning 29 countries, city-states and micro-states – as well as those in the UK and Ireland are still barred from traveling to the US unless they are a US citizen or spend 1
The restrictions were not introduced until March 2020. Although President Donald J. Trump briefly ordered an end to the ban on European travelers during his last week’s topic, President Biden quickly canceled the move.
Discussions about when to resume inbound travel have been opaque. In late June, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said it was too early to say when the United States would repeal travel regulations for EU citizens.
“We are eager to be able to restore the journey as fully and quickly as possible. We are guided a lot by science by our medical experts. That should be the basic principle that we look at this, “Blinken said at a press conference in Paris, adding that he” can not put a date on it. ”
Transport Minister Pete Buttigieg said on July 8 that the United States was not yet ready to lift restrictions on international travel.
“A lot of this is based on what’s going on with the vaccines,” Buttigieg said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “We are clearly seeing good news and bad news out there in terms of the variants. One moment you read about a variant that is happening all over the world, the next you know, it will be the dominant tribe here in the USA ”
Here’s what we know about the United States’ border closures with European countries.
Who is responsible for the decision-making process?
In June, the White House announced the creation of “working groups” with the EU, the UK, Canada and Mexico to reopen borders.
“While these groups have met a number of times, there are further discussions before we can announce the next steps to reopen travel with any country,” White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said in a statement. “We have made enormous progress in the domestic market in our vaccination efforts, as have many of these other countries, but we want to ensure that we move consciously and are able to sustainably reopen international travel when it is safe to do so. ”
During the first meeting of the EU-US working group, which took place on 18 June, officials said they would continue discussions on how to safely reopen travel between the two regions.
“Reciprocity is an important part of our approach to lifting restrictions for non-EU countries,” said Adalbert Jahnz, a spokesman for the European Commission, in a statement. He added that the EU has “received assurances that this is a high priority issue for the US government.”
What are the criteria for reopening travel with Europe?
The Biden administration has repeatedly said it will rely on science to guide its decision to ease border restrictions. But the picture of the virus has improved in many parts of the United States and in Europe, and the White House has not announced specific benchmarks for reopening.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said last month that U.S. officials were monitoring the development of the virus, including the spread of worrying variants.
“I am not able to put only a specific time frame on it because it will largely depend on the course of the epidemiology,” said Mr. Price during a press conference on June 21.
Although reported cases of coronavirus in the United States have fallen from record highs in the winter, public health experts have raised concerns about the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, which the CDC now estimates is the dominant variant in the United States. The country reports an average of approx. 15,259 new cases a day, according to a New York Times database.
What is the state of the virus in Europe?
After a slow start, vaccination campaigns have begun to pick up. The European Union, originally plagued by disruptions in the supply of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines, turned in April to rely heavily on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Reported cases of coronavirus also remain at low levels in many parts of Europe as more people are vaccinated, but the spread of variants has given rise to some outbreaks.
The United Kingdom has seen a sharp increase in reported cases since dealing with an outbreak of the Delta variant, but this has not yet been followed by an increase in hospitalizations or deaths. Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced that the country would lift most restrictions on July 19.
In Portugal, in early July, officials announced new curfews in Lisbon, Porto and other popular tourist destinations, which reversed after reopening its economy to prepare for summer visitors.
Travel lobby groups and airlines have called on the United States to reopen travel with Europe to strengthen the economy. On July 7, a coalition of 24 trade organizations issued a plan for the safe reopening of borders and called on the United States to allow fully vaccinated travelers from regions with high vaccination rates and low levels of concern.
“We know that international travel can be restarted and especially with countries that have similar vaccination rates as the United States,” Roger Dow, CEO of the US Travel Association, said at a webinar on July 7. He specifically called on the United States to reopen immediate travel with Britain, pointing out that the country has fully vaccinated about 51 per cent of its population.
Some public health experts have also called for the reopening of international travel for vaccinated people.
Barry Bloom, a research professor and former dean of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said U.S. officials may be wary of spreading more infectious variants, but that the presence of the Delta variant was already evident in the country.
“Keeping the British out will not change that fact,” said Dr. Bloom.
Which other countries are on the list of banned travelers?
The CDC’s list of countries from which travel is banned also includes China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa and India.