February 29, 2024

Decision to keep US borders closed is ‘major blow’

The decision by the US to keep borders closed to international travellers has been described as a “major blow” to the travel industry.

Recent remarks made by President Joe Biden had raised hopes of an imminent end to the ban, which has been in place since March 2020.

But on Monday those hopes were dashed when White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told a press briefing: “Given where we are today, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point.

“The more transmissible Delta variant is spreading both here and around the world. Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated, and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead.”

Evan Konwiser, EVP Product & Strategy, American Express Global Business Travel, said: “The news is a major blow to our economic recovery and the thousands of businesses who rely on international travel to remain viable.

“The presence of the Delta variant in the US shows that keeping in place the outdated, unsystematic restrictions from the previous administration is ineffective. Prohibiting travellers from countries with higher vaccination rates and lower case numbers while welcoming travellers from Covid ‘hotspots’ is not a sensible approach to protecting public health.

“We urge the Biden administration to take a science-driven approach and lift the ban on UK/EU travel. Other countries have proven that you can reopen international travel while safeguarding public health through a data-driven, science-based approach. Failing to do so flies in the face of the administration’s commitment to being guided by the science.

“Moreover, prohibiting the lucrative international travel that enables airlines to keep domestic prices low is fueling inflation rates, putting economic recovery at risk and limiting how far the average American’s paycheck can stretch.”

The Press Secretary’s statement came days after the Center for Disease Control raised the Covid-19 threat level for the UK to Level 4, the highest, due to rising cases.

While the US has banned UK arrivals, the UK has placed the US on the amber list, which means US citizens can enter the country but must quarantine for 10 days and follow a strict testing regime.