Sat, 18 Sep 2021

U.S. extends closed borders as Covid variant surges

Robert Besser
30 Jul 2021, 21:31 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Due to the spread of the Covid Delta variant, the United States will not lift the existing travel restrictions preventing foreigners from entering the country, the White House confirmed this week.

The decision was made during a White House meeting last Friday, and will continue to bar much of the world's population from the United States.

"Given where we are today ... with the Delta variant, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday of this week. "Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue to increase in the weeks ahead."

The announcement put to an end any attempts to reopen the tourism sector in the United States.

Reports indicate that the nation's airlines have lobbied the White House to lift the restrictions. Industry observers believe the earliest a change in travel restrictions could come would be September.

The United States currently bars non-U.S. citizens who have been in the United Kingdom within the past 14 days, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without internal border controls, or travelers who have been in Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.

U.S. travel restrictions were begun in January 2020 after residents of China were barred entry due to the spread of COVID-19. India was added to the list in May.

Last week, the U.S. said U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico would remain closed to nonessential travel until at least August 21. Canada, however, is to allow fully vaccinated American tourists into the country starting August 9.

Meanwhile, Reuters has reported that the White House was discussing requiring COVID-19 vaccines for international visitors, but no decisions have been made.

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