Washington: The United States will not lift existing travel restrictions “at this point” due to concerns over the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant and the rising number of U.S. coronavirus cases, a White House official told Reuters last week.
The decision means the long-running travel restrictions that have barred much of the world’s population from the country since 2020 will not be lifted in the short term.
“Given where we are today with the Delta variant, the United States will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point,” the official told Reuters, citing the spread of the Delta variant in the United States and abroad.
“Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely continue to increase in the weeks ahead.”
The announcement almost certainly dooms any bid by U.S. airlines and the U.S. tourism industry to salvage summer travel by Europeans and others covered by the restrictions. Airlines have heavily lobbied the White House for months to lift the restrictions.
The United States currently bars most non-U.S. citizens who within the last 14 days have been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.
The extraordinary U.S. travel restrictions were first imposed on China in January 2020 to address the spread of COVID-19 and other countries have been added since then — most recently India in early May.
Last week, the Homeland Security Department said U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least Aug. 21 — even as Canada said it would begin allowing in fully vaccinated American tourists starting Aug. 9.