July 27, 2021 -- Citing dangers posed by the Delta variant, the Biden administration has decided against easing international travel restrictions, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday during a news briefing.
“We will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point,” as “the more transmissible Delta variant is spreading both here and around the world,” she said.
The travel restrictions, some of which were put in place by former President Trump at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, are designed to prevent most noncitizens from entering the U.S. for nonessential reasons.
Psaki told reporters that the administration doesn’t know when the bans will be lifted.
“I don’t have a timeline to predict for you, because it’s all about what success we have at getting more people vaccinated, getting more vaccines out to the world, and fighting the virus,” she said.
The airline industry and some European leaders had encouraged President Biden to ease the restrictions, The Wall Street Journal reported.
But U.S. health officials are worried about the spread of the Delta variant here and abroad. Last week, the CDC advised Americans not to travel to the United Kingdom because of an increase in COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant.
“Because of the current situation in the United Kingdom, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,” the CDC said.
The COVID-19 travel bans were imposed through four presidential proclamations. Generally, they say that people who aren’t U.S. citizens cannot enter the U.S. for nonessential travel if they’ve been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without internal border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran, Brazil, or India within the last 14 days, according to the U.S. State Department.