Skip to content

Ban on European travel to the US could be lifted — and immediately reversed

Jan. 19, 2021
6 min read
Ban on European travel to the US could be lifted — and immediately reversed
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor's Note

This story has been updated with new information.

The White House has plans to lift bans on travel from Europe, the United Kingdom and Brazil that have been in place since last spring, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday evening.

In a brief post, the Journal reported that President Donald Trump plans to lift the bans he put in place last March to slow the spread of the coronavirus — restrictions that critics said were far too late. The bans on visitors from Iran and China remain in place.

According to the Journal, the new policies would go into place Jan. 26, the same day new COVID-19 testing requirements go into effect for all international arrivals into the U.S.

It's a shift from Friday, Jan. 15, when U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told LBC that President Trump had blocked plans that would have allowed travel from Europe to the United States to resume.

Either way, the reversal is unlikely to last long.

Already, incoming Biden White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has responded to the news on Twitter, saying that, "With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel."

"On the advice of our medical team," Psaki added, "the [administration] does not intend to lift these restrictions on Jan. 26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19."


In November, there were reports that the U.S. was considering ending its entry ban on travelers coming from certain countries — including people traveling from Brazil, Ireland, the U.K. and 26 other European countries. At the time, White House coronavirus task force members were said to have backed the plan, as did public health and other federal agencies. However, it was up to President Trump to make a final decision on the matter.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

"I'm afraid the U.S. President has decided not to sign what's called 212(f)," Shapps said in an interview with LBC host Nick Ferrari. "This is an Executive Order which would allow flights to open up to Europe and so flights from Europe, so anyone who's been in Europe and the U.K. for the last 14 days cannot travel to the United States."

Sign up to receive the daily TPG newsletter for more travel news.

Shapps told Ferrari that the issue could be resurfaced when President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

Notably, the plans that were raised in November didn't include removing the ban for travelers who have recently been in China or Iran.

Since as early as January 2020, the White House banned non-U.S. citizens from entering its borders if they had been in a number of high-risk countries in the past 14 days. Notably, the whole of Europe — including the U.K. and Ireland — were part of the ban as of March.

The ban, which includes 26 Schengen Area countries, the U.K., Ireland, China, Iran and Brazil, only applies to noncitizens coming directly from those countries. As such, a U.K. passport holder could still enter the U.S. provided they spend 14 days outside of Europe, China, Iran or Brazil.

Additionally, there have been some exemptions to the ban, including those who travel for "national interest" related to "humanitarian travel, public health response and national security." Reuters said the U.S. has also approved exemptions for some European business travelers, investors, academics, students and journalists.

The U.S. recently announced that, as of Jan. 26, all U.S.-bound international travelers will need to have a negative COVID-19 test result in order to travel. England will require all travelers to have a negative pre-departure test as of Jan. 18.

And, at this time, the U.K. is once again under a strict national lockdown.

Airlines that rely heavily on transatlantic operations, such as Virgin Atlantic and a number of U.S. carriers, have felt the effects of the ban. As Europeans haven't been able to directly enter the U.S., demand on transatlantic routes has dropped significantly.

Related: Global air travel unlikely to recover until 2024 as COVID-19 remains an ‘issue’ in the U.S. and elsewhere

Industry group Airlines for America, which represents American, Delta and United, among others, said previously that it had "been advocating for the federal government to set a national standard on testing in order to lift travel restrictions."

Related: It’s official: You’ll now be able to test out of the U.K.’s mandatory 14-day quarantine

England never completely shut its borders during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, it requires that arrivals from high-risk countries quarantine for 10 days, which has deterred tourists from coming on short-term stays.

Since the Test to Release program came into effect, travelers entering England from any country not on its travel corridor list — including those coming from the U.S. — can test out of a 10-day quarantine. The passenger must opt to pay for a government-approved COVID-19 test, which they will take after five days of quarantine. If the test comes back negative, they will be able to forgo the rest of their quarantine.

Aside from the U.K., however, nearly every European country bans Americans from entering. That is unlikely to change at this time, given the EU's guidance to not permit travelers from countries with high rates of infection.

President Trump first banned non-citizens from entering from China on Jan. 31, before adding Iran to that list in February. Then, in March, Europe was added to the banned list, followed shortly thereafter by the U.K. and Ireland. Finally, Brazil was added in May.

Additional reporting by Melanie Lieberman and Clint Henderson.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023