Biden Expected To Announce Date When U.S. Travel Ban Will End “In The Next Several Days”

To the relief of the beleaguered transatlantic travel sector, it seems likely that a U.S. decision on the date when it will allow international visitors to visit will be announced soon.

President Biden was attending a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House on Friday and was asked about when the U.S. travel ban might be rescinded.

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As reported by AP, Biden told reporters that a team that is advising him on the pandemic “brought that subject up. It’s in the process of (considering) how soon we can lift the ban … and I will be able to answer that question to you within the next several days.”

It was Chancellor Merkel who raised the issue and said through a translator that President Biden had also told her the same thing during their meeting, that he was looking into the matter. “Before such a decision, one has to reflect,” Merkel said, as reported by CNN. “It’s not sensible to have to take it back after only a few days.”

Before Merkel’s visit, Fortune reported that EU diplomats were becoming increasingly frustrated with the Biden Administration over leaving the travel ban in place for most of their citizens, “citing inconsistent rules, economic costs and an outdated strategy for halting the coronavirus.” The U.S. government has come under pressure for saying it will follow the science but then not doing so in regards to removing international travel restrictions.

Airlines for America, a trade group which represents many U.S. carriers, said “the time for action is now” in regard to allowing international visitors to enter the U.S. It made the point that the U.S. allows travel to and from Mexico, which only has about one third of its residents vaccinated. However, travel is currently restricted from Canada and the U.K., where vaccination rates are high.

Whilst completely vaccinated travelers are allowed into the EU from the U.S. and even to the U.K. if they quarantine and test (on day two and day eight), airlines are hampered because of the lack of two-way travel–they cannot offer as many flights as they would like because movement is only happening in one direction. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told AP that whilst bookings by Americans surged when those countries reopened, “the problem is, there are only Americans that we are carrying in (to Europe) and carrying out.” Delta’s transatlantic capacity is currently half what it was pre-pandemic.

The U.S. Travel Association, a non-profit organization, welcomed the President’s comments. Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes issued a statement highlighting the emotional and financial cost of the U.S. travel ban.

“Each day that outdated restrictions on travel exist wreaks economic damage on our nation,” Barnes said, “not to mention the personal toll on individuals separated from their families and loved ones. Travel bans related to Canada, Europe and the U.K. alone cost the U.S. economy $1.5 billion every week—enough to support 10,000 American jobs.”

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