White House could relax COVID-19 travel restrictions as early as May

Mar 18, 2021

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The White House could relax restrictions on travel between the United States and Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Europe by mid-May, according to CNBC.

The news comes as individual states and cities move to quickly reopen, but there has been no formal announcement about the potential policy shift just yet. CNBC reported that President Joe Biden and his COVID-19 task force “need more time to feel comfortable with reopening borders and increasing the level of air traffic from overseas.”

The new measures would affect travel across the Mexican and Canadian borders, sources told CNBC, and on inbound travel from the U.K., Europe and Brazil.

Right now, all travelers flying back to the U.S. from abroad need to test negative for COVID-19. Additionally, since March 2020, the U.S. has limited inbound land border crossings from Canada and Mexico to “essential travel” only. Travelers crossing the border for tourism purposes do not fall under the essential travel designation. Travel by non-citizens from Brazil, South Africa, the U.K. and much of Europe has also been banned.

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This may not have any effect on travel restrictions into Canada, which has incredibly strict quarantine and testing mandates. And the ban on nonessential travel between the U.S. and Canada was extended on Thursday until at least April 21, 2021. Government leaders in both countries first announced the border closure one year ago on March 21, 2020, and have extended the order on a near-monthly basis since.

Canada has also tightened its requirements for travelers arriving by air.

All travelers ages 5 or older must present a negative COVID-19 test result prior to boarding any flight entering Canada from another country. All travelers to Canada must also take a PCR test upon arrival and pay for a three-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel while waiting for the result of the test. If the traveler’s test returns a negative result, they will be able to finish their mandatory 14-day quarantine at home. If a traveler’s test comes back positive, they will be required to quarantine in designated government facilities.

Upon entering office, President Biden doubled down on the ban on non-U.S. travelers from Brazil, England, Ireland and 26 additional countries across Europe, known as the Schengen Area. South Africa was also added to that list of countries.

This news comes after Biden urged states to open COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults by May 1.

“If we do this together, by [July 4], there’s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day,” President Biden said.

Featured photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

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