He didn’t start it, but he could certainly end it. The question is: when?
During the height of the pandemic, the former US President invoked a ban on most arrivals from the European Union and the UK, as a measure to prevent the spread of covid-19. Now, President Joe Biden plans to formally address the present and future of the ban, imminently.
President Biden met with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, this week, and the topic of the EU travel ban was a key feature on the mind of the European leader. Specifically, ending it.
At the the time of the Presidential Proclamation which created the ban, the measure was controversial, but now more than a year on, and after significant vaccination levels on both sides and testing regimes in place, it’s widely regarded as overly cautious, not “following the science” and stymying key economic recovery.
Biden To Address Europe Travel Ban
President Joe Biden was pressed by reporters on the subject of the European travel ban, and for the first time, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel – or even a potential date. At a minimum, a plan.
Government “insiders” had expected a July 4th travel reopening, but dates came and passed without any movement or concrete indication. The USA has seen an absolutely booming domestic travel recovery, with more travelers hitting the road this year than in pre-pandemic times over the summer.
Yet outbound international travel remains at a standstill, and inbound is even worse. Ahead of summer, the European Union added the United States to its “safe list”, which entitles fully vaccinated Americans, or those willing to provide a negative test to enter.
It’s understood that the EU expected the USA to reciprocate in kind, but months on, there’s been no such movement. President Biden today, significantly changed the tone on the subject, telling media an announcement is forthcoming.
“It’s in process now, I’m waiting to hear from our folks, our Covid team, as to when that should be done.”Joe Biden, POTUS
Pressed further, Biden said he expected a concrete answer “within the next several days”. Calls from business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have stressed the need to open safe and responsible travel, with pre-flight testing and digital proof of covid-19 vaccination leading the way.
An announcement does not necessarily mean borders will open right away.
UK trade groups suggest the restrictions are costing UK economic recovery £23 million per day between the two countries alone. For the U.S. economy, with bans applied to both EU and UK, visitors the numbers are expectedly far larger.
President Biden’s remarks fell short of a concrete answer on a reopening date. They also didn’t specifically mention whether the United Kingdom would be included in the potential repealing of the current travel bans, or whether separate negotiations would take place.
Concerns over whether those vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine will be accepted are said to be a key issue, which US authorities are yet to decide.
For a White House which has avoided talking about the European bans, somewhat like the plague, the direct answer stressing potential moves, or firm dates within the next several days is a significant change. Hopefully, one which allows vaccinated travelers on both sides of the pond to reconnect, after more than a year apart.