Travel ban update: Restriction became ‘existential threat to Biden’s Europe policy,’ expert says

·12-min read

The United States will ease travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people visiting from the United Kingdom and the European Union, according to the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator.

The United States will require adult foreign nationals to be fully vaccinated, Jeffrey Zients said on Monday.

“Beginning in early November, foreign nationals flying to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated – fully vaccinated and they must show proof of vaccination prior to boarding a US-bound airplane,” Mr Zients said.

Former president Donald Trump initially limited travel from China before banning countries from the Schengen Zone, as well as the United Kingdom and Ireland. President Joe Biden’s administration had maintained these tight restrictions, which were put in place during the early days of the pandemic.

The European Union had initially said it was safe to travel to the United States but later removed it from the “White List” of destinations, along with five other countries.

KEY POINTS

  • White House announces major loosening of travel policy

  • New rules will take effect in November

  • Boris Johnson ‘delighted’ by easing of travel ban

  • EU ambassador to US celebrates new travel policy

  • New travel rules will affect 33 countries, White House says

White House expected to announce travel changes later today

15:59 , Nathan Place

The White House plans to announce an easing of travel restrictions later on Monday, multiple reports have confirmed.

Under the new rules, the United States is expected to let in adult foreign nationals from the United Kingdom and European Union as long as they are fully vaccinated.

Read more here:

US lifts travel ban for double-vaccinated UK and EU travellers

White House says new travel rules will begin in November

16:13 , Nathan Place

The White House has officially announced its change of policy regarding incoming travel to the United States, and says the new rules could take effect as early as November.

“Beginning in early November, foreign nationals flying to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated – fully vaccinated, and they must show proof of vaccination prior to boarding a US-bound airplane,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters on Monday.

New travel rules will affect 33 countries, White House says

16:30 , Nathan Place

The United States’ new rules for incoming travel will affect 33 countries, the White House says.

“We will move to this much stricter global system, so we will have a consistent approach across all countries, it will require foreign nationals to be vaccinated, to prove they're vaccinated, and then to go through the testing and contract tracing regiments,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said.

Boris Johnson ‘delighted’ by easing of travel ban

16:40 , Nathan Place

Prime Minister Boris Johnson celebrated the United States’ new travel policy on Twitter, calling it “fantastic” news.

“I am delighted that from November, [President Biden] is reinstating transatlantic travel so fully vaccinated UK nationals can visit the USA,” Mr Johnson tweeted. “It’s a fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again.”

EU ambassador to US celebrates new travel policy

16:59 , Nathan Place

The European Union’s ambassador to the United States has welcomed the relaxing of the US travel ban.

Ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis cheerfully tweeted the news on Monday, noting that the new policy largely reciprocates the EU’s policy for US travellers.

“Travel ban lifted!” Mr Lambrinidis wrote. “Vaccinated, pre-flight tested Europeans will again be able to travel to the US from November, just as vaccinated Americans are today allowed to travel to the EU.”

Long-distance couples overjoyed by lifting of travel ban

17:14 , Nathan Place

As the US announced the easing of its Covid travel ban on Monday, some long-distance couples took to Twitter to celebrate.

“My heart is even more full to be reuniting & closing distance with my soon to be husband this Sunday on my K1 visa now that the travel ban is lifting for the rest of the US,” tweeted a woman named Charlotte, who describes herself as one half of a US-UK relationship. “WE DID IT!!!”

EU diplomatic mission calls policy change ‘great news’

17:43 , Nathan Place

On Twitter, the European Union’s diplomatic mission to the United States has celebrated the news of the United States’ new travel policy.

“Great news on transatlantic travel,” the mission wrote. “#TravelBan lifted! Starting in early November, the United States will welcome vaccinated travelers.”

Airline shares take off as US relaxes UK and EU travel bans

17:54 , Nathan Place

Shares in the major transatlantic airlines soared after the US announced it was easing strict Covid-19 travel rules imposed by the Trump administration in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

The executive order, renewed by President Joe Biden when he took office, banned citizens from a number of countries from travelling to the US, including the European Union’s Schengen Zone, the UK, and Ireland.

Airlines have been pleading with the administration to lift the ban for months after the UK and EU both lifted restrictions on Americans.

Read more here:

Airline shares take off as US relaxes UK and EU travel bans

White House to hold press conference on travel policy shortly

18:10 , Nathan Place

White House press secretary Jen Psaki is expected to shortly begin a press conference covering today’s change of US travel policy. Watch it live here:

Psaki makes no mention of travel ban in first six minutes of presser

18:19 , Nathan Place

Jen Psaki took almost seven minutes to mention the White House’s change of policy on incoming travel to the United States, and chose not to announce it in her pre-Q&A announcements. About seven minutes into her presser, she did finally answer a question about it.

Psaki says old travel rules were ‘not equitable,’ ‘confusing'

18:27 , Nathan Place

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that the United States’ previous travel rules were flawed, and the upcoming policy change is an “important” step.

“The older rules were not equitable in our view, and they were a bit confusing,” Ms Psaki said. “In early November, we’ll be putting in place strict protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19 from passengers flying internationally into the United States by requiring that adult foreign nationals traveling to the United States be fully vaccinated.”

Ms Psaki added that the decision was “an important one facing many people around the world.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki (AP)
White House press secretary Jen Psaki (AP)

Transatlantic families celebrate relaxing of travel ban

18:43 , Nathan Place

As the White House confirms it is loosening its ban on travel from the European Union, some intercontinental families are celebrating on social media.

“Got a news notification that the US is lifting the travel ban from the EU and 16 minutes later my mom had booked a flight to come to LA,” one relieved daughter tweeted. “I haven't seen her in two years and she's going to arrive on my birthday (!!!) and I cannot believe I WILL GET TO HUG HER.”

Psaki says new travel policy is unrelated to foreign policy

18:50 , Nathan Place

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has denied that the United States’ loosening of travel restrictions is at all motivated by foreign policy concerns.

When a reporter asked if the timing of the announcement was in any way related to President Biden’s upcoming visit to the United Nations, Ms Psaki flatly said no.

“We’re basing it on science, and when the process concluded, and here we are today,” Ms Psaki said.

How the new policy will work for British visitors

19:15 , Nathan Place

Eighteen months after a presidential proclamation from Donald Trump closed off the US to British visitors, American officials say the travel ban will be lifted from some time in November – for fully vaccinated travellers only.

But how will the new rules work?

Here’s everything you need to know:

Back to the US: how the new policy for British visitors will work

UK ambassador to US: ‘We are grateful the US has recognized the progress the UK has made against Covid-19'

19:30 , Gustaf Kilander

The UK’s ambassador to the US, Dame Karen Pierce has said that the easing of travel restrictions “is great news for families and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic”.

“We are grateful the US has recognized the progress the UK has made against Covid-19, including high vaccination rates and declining cases,” she added.

“This decision means that more Brits can reunite with loved ones in the United States, more British holidaymakers can spend their hard-earned pounds in the American tourism sector, and more business activity can boost both of our economies,” she concluded.

Travel ban went from ‘minor irritant’ to ‘existential threat to Biden’s Europe policy'

19:45 , Gustaf Kilander

The travel ban didn’t receive much attention in the US but has been frustrating to many Europeans, so much so that it was becoming a major problem for the Biden administration, a foreign policy expert has told The Washington Post.

The director of the Centre on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, Thomas Wright, told the paper: “Over the past few months, the travel ban went from a minor irritant in the transatlantic relationship to an existential threat to Biden’s Europe policy. There was simply no scientific justification for it after European vaccination rates exceeded those of the United States.”

The senior director of the Europe Center at the Atlantic Council, Benjamin Haddad, told The Post: “The issue had been rising among public opinion in Europe, and European leaders were increasingly under pressure to impose reciprocity on Americans.”

Travel ban became untenable as Europe increasingly outpaced US vaccination rate

20:00 , Gustaf.Kilander

The US was initially ahead of European Union in terms of vaccinations, but the EU passed the US this summer, and as of last week, around 60 per cent of EU residents were fully vaccinated, compared to 53 per cent of Americans, where vaccine hesitancy has stalled the inoculation rate.

As the EU eased their travel restrictions on Americans in June, many expected the move to be reciprocated, leading to anger and frustration among some diplomats as the announcement didn’t appear.

The EU Commission’s vice president for promoting the European way of life, Margaritis Schinas, tweeted that the change in policy from the Biden administration was “sound and long-awaited”.

“When I met my US counterparts in July in Lisbon, I told them that mobility cannot be reserved for the elite alone,” he said. “People need to travel – not only officials.”

He added that Europe is “the most vaccinated continent in the world”.

CDC to decide which vaccines qualify for entering US

20:15 , Gustaf Kilander

White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients has said that the White House will defer to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on what qualifies as being fully vaccinated and which vaccines will qualify for entering the United States.

The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is widely used in Europe but has not been approved for emergency use in the US.

When asked about vaccine mandates for people travelling within the US, Mr Zients said the Biden administration is “not taking any measures off the table”.

He added that there were no updates to the policies governing the border crossings with Canada and Mexico.

European commissioner says ‘intense negotiations’ brought about change

20:30 , Nathan Place

Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Internal Market, attributed the United States’ change of travel policy to “intense negotiations.”

“Done!” Mr Breton tweeted triumphantly on Monday. “Today the US announce lifting the travel ban on fully vaccinated Europeans. Intense negotiations have paid off — and the EU Vaccine #TaskForce will keep working with the Biden administration on other important topics such as supply chains.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting