The U.S. will not lift existing travel restrictions on European countries due to the ongoing spread of the Delta COVID variant, Reuters reported Monday.
The U.S. vowed last week to give an update on its travel restrictions within days of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House. Merkel had pressed Biden to open travel between the U.S. and European countries. (RELATED: Germany And Europe Are Prepared ‘To Take On More Responsibility,’ Merkel Tells Biden)
“Given where we are today with the Delta variant, the United States will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point,” a Biden administration official reportedly told Reuters on Monday. “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.”
U.S. travel bans currently prohibit non-U.S. citizens from traveling to the U.S. if they have been in certain nations in the past 14 days. The nations include the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil, according to Reuters.
The Biden administration has yet to formally announce that restrictions will remain in place, however. Biden said last week that he was waiting for a decision from U.S. COVID researchers.
“It’s in process now. And I’ll be able to answer that question to you within the next several days,” Biden said of travel restrictions during a press conference with Merkel. “I’m waiting to hear from our folks in our Covid team as to when that should be done. And the chancellor did raise it.”
“Before such a decision, one has to reflect, and it has to be a sustainable decision. It is certainly not sensible to have to take it back after only a few days. So I . . . have every confidence in the American Covid team,” Merkel said at the time.
Germany and Europe are not the only nations disappointed with how slowly the U.S. is reopening its borders, with Canada urging the Biden administration to open their shared border last week. Canada has opened the border to vaccinated U.S. travelers.
“We hope that at the right moment the American government will be able to change their border measures, however, we respect that it’s their decision,” Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc told reporters Monday, according to Politico. “We will continue to work in a privileged way with the Americans and we hope to have news from them soon.”