President Joe Biden has said that his Covid-19 team is actively assessing the situation throughout Europe and that his administration will announce when the ban on travel from Europe will be lifted in the days ahead.
The president was questioned on the issue at a press conference on Thursday alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who he said had raised the issue with him at a working meeting.
“We brought in the head of our Covid team, because the chancellor brought that subject up,” Mr Biden responded. “It’s in the process of [seeing] how soon we can lift the ban.”
“It’s in process now. And I’ll be able to answer that question to you within the next several days, what is likely to happen. I’m waiting to hear from our folks, from our Covid team, as to when that should be done,” he said.
Businesses in Germany and across Europe have been putting continued pressure on the Biden administration to relax the ban, which was put in place shortly after he took office in January. It prevents all nonessential travel from the region, though noncitizens can apply for waivers including for reasons of “significant economic activity”.
That pressure continued this week when Europe’s largest auto industry association, headquartered in Frankfurt, issued a letter to the US Embassy in Berlin.
“Business travel to the USA must once again be possible without restrictions. The US government is currently locking out European business travellers. It is incomprehensible that the Schengen states are still classified as high-risk areas by the United States,” wrote the Mechanical Engineering Industry Association.
Germany has seen its rate of new Covid-19 cases plunge to a 7-day average of less than 1,000 in recent months, as have many other countries in the region, though some including France have seen their numbers begin to tick up once again in July.