The Biden administration has no immediate plans to lift ongoing restrictions on international travel, despite coming under huge pressure to do so from the travel industry.
An unidentified spokesperson for the White House told Reuters: “We have made tremendous progress domestically in our vaccination efforts, as have many of these other countries, but we want to ensure that we move deliberately and are in a position to sustainably reopen international travel when it is safe to do so.”
“While these groups have met a number of times, there are further discussions to be had before we can announce any next steps on travel reopening with any country,” the White House official continued.
Earlier this week, over 24 travel industry associations joined forces to create a blueprint for the safe resumption of travel to and from the United States.
The document, called “A Framework to Safely Lift Entry Restrictions and Restart International Travel,” identifies policy principles that would allow the United States to welcome international visitors and among its signatories are Airlines for America, American Hotel and Lodging Association, American Society of Travel Advisors, American Tours International, LLC, Global Business Travel Association, International Air Transport Association, National Restaurant Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Travel Association.
Some of the specific recommendations in the blueprint are:
- Reserve entry restrictions for only the highest-risk countries
- Replace all other blanket travel restrictions with a framework of entry protocols based on a country-by-country and individual traveler risk assessment
- Ensure the framework is easy to understand, communicate and implement
As immediate steps toward reopening, the blueprint urges the federal government to:
- Quickly lift entry restrictions and reopen travel between the U.S. and the U.K., given the two countries’ similar vaccination records. New research from the Mayo Clinic shows the risk of a person infected with COVID-19 boarding a flight from the UK to the U.S. is 1 out of 10,000. The same research shows that the risk of an infected passenger transmitting the virus to another passenger flying from the UK to the U.S. is even lower at 1 out of 1 million passengers.
- Allow expedited entry into the U.S. for fully vaccinated individuals from non-high-risk countries.
- Ease entry restrictions by July 15, 2021, when the U.S. is forecast to achieve widespread immunity and sustained declines in infections and hospitalisations.
In a statement, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said: “The travel industry agrees that being guided by the science is absolutely the correct approach, and the science has been telling us for some time that it’s possible to begin to safely reopen international travel.”