U.S. won't lift travel restrictions 'at this point,' according to reports
While several countries are reopening to vaccinated Americans, the United States will remain firmly shut for now. Reuters first reported the U.S. wouldn't lift any of its existing travel restrictions "at this point" over concerns about the delta coronavirus variant.
"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," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on July 26, according to Reuters.
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Most non-U.S. citizens of China, Iran, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, India, and Schengen area countries are banned from entering the United States.
Several countries have reopened -- or will reopen -- to Americans in recent weeks. Canada on July 19 said it would reopen its borders to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens beginning on Aug. 9. The European Union has also opened to vaccinated Americans. But the U.S. doesn't seem as eager to reopen even the land borders, as it again extended the closure of the land border with Canada to nonessential travel through at least Aug. 21.
The delta variant is the country’s most dominant strain, and vaccination rates have plateaued. The delta variant now accounts for 83% of cases in the U.S., a figure the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called a “dramatic” increase from the week of July 3.
The news comes as the U.S. is reportedly considering revising its mask guidance even for vaccinated people. Some locations in the U.S. have also reimposed mask requirements or recommended mask-wearing.
The travel industry, still reeling from the pandemic, reacted strongly to the news. Travel has surged back -- domestic demand has reached pre-pandemic levels and the TSA now regularly screening over 2 million passengers a day -- but international travel to the U.S. hasn't recovered.
“While other nations, like Canada, the U.K. and much of the E.U., have all taken steps to welcome inbound travelers this summer and rebuild jobs and local economies, the United States remains closed to one of the most important segments of the travel economy—the international inbound traveler," U.S. Travel Association's executive vice president Tori Emerson Barnes said in a statement.
“We respectfully urge the Biden administration to revisit its decision in the very near term and begin reopening international travel to vaccinated individuals, starting with air corridors between the U.S. and nations with similar vaccination rates," the statement continued.