Given where we are today […] with the Delta variant, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this pointWhite House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday, citing the growing number of coronavirus cases in the United States and abroad.
Driven by the Delta variant, cases are increasing in us, especially in unvaccinated people, and they appear to continue to increase in the coming weeks., she explained.
The United States currently prohibits access to its territory to most non-Americans who have stayed in the 26 European countries of the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, China, India , South Africa, Iran or Brazil in the last 14 days.
European Union countries, which for their part decided to reopen their own borders to Americans in June, provided they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or test negative, were hoping for reciprocity.
The Biden administration has thus resisted pressure from its European partners, but also from those of the airlines and the American tourist industry, which hope the lifting of the restrictions before the end of the summer period.
Last week, the US Department of Homeland Security previously indicated that the land borders with Canada and Mexico would remain closed for non-essential travel at least until August 21, much to the chagrin. American traders near the northern border, who are eagerly awaiting the return of Canadian tourists.
Canada, however, has decided toallow entry of fully vaccinated American tourists from August 9.
The issue of opening American borders was raised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her meeting with President Joe Biden, ten days ago.
The process is underway, said the American president during their joint press conference, before specifying that he would be
able to answer this question in the next few days.
Since then, however, the number of COVID-19 cases has jumped in the United States. As of Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a 53% increase from the previous week in the seven-day average.
Discovered in India, the Delta variant, the most contagious since the outbreak of the pandemic, now accounts for more than 80% of new cases in the United States.
President Joe Biden and his administration, but now also a growing number of Republican officials, are increasing calls to restart a vaccination process that slowed down during the summer.
The first restrictions related to the coronavirus imposed by the United States in January 2020 targeted China, but were subsequently gradually extended to other countries. Travelers from the Schengen area, the United Kingdom and Ireland can no longer enter the United States since March 2020.
An easing of restrictions in September?
At the beginning of last month, Washington announced the formation of working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom on the issue of international travel, which raised hopes of easing restrictions.
According to Reuters, the US airline and tourism industries may have to wait until September or even later for a possible review.
The Biden administration declined to come up with parameters that would tell when it will lift the restrictions. It also did not say whether it would remove restrictions targeting countries or whether it would promote surveillance of travelers instead.
Reuters reported last week that the White House was discussing the possibility of requiring the administration of vaccines on international visitors, but no decision has been made, news agency sources said. This possibility is still under study.
The Biden administration also recently discussed with U.S. airlines the possibility of implementing an international passenger contact tracing system before lifting travel restrictions.
The restrictions have drawn strong criticism from those prevented from seeing loved ones in other countries, and the White House has expressed a desire to reunite separated families.
The United States is also increasing its warnings to its nationals tempted to travel abroad. After advising against traveling to the United Kingdom a week ago, the CDC notably added Portugal and Spain to the list of destinations to avoid on Monday.