The United States announced on Monday (July 26) that it will not lift any existing travel restrictions at this time due to concerns over the COVID-19 Delta variant and the rising number of U.S. coronavirus cases.
The decision means that the travel restrictions that have prevented thousands of people from visiting the United States since early 2020 will not be lifted in the short term, according to Reuters. Many analysts had expected the restrictions to be eased in the next few weeks.
According to the CDC website, the existing travel restrictions include most travelers from: China, Iran, European Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City), United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), Republic of Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and India.
As TMI reported, last week the U.S. Homeland Security Department said U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to nonessential travel until at least Aug. 21, even as Canada said it would begin allowing travel from fully vaccinated American tourists starting Aug. 9.
In June, the European Union had also added the U.S. to a list of countries for which travel restrictions should gradually be lifted.
Business Travel News reports that the rising numbers of the highly contagious Delta variant is behind the decision. Citing the weekly update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued last Friday, BTN says that the seven-day average of 40,246 new daily COVID-19 cases was up 46.7% from the prior week.
The Delta variant now makes up more than 83% of recent U.S. cases, says the CDC.
In the last two weeks, cases have increased 171% nationally, and the death rate is up 19% over the week before, reports USA Today.
U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes represented just one organization protesting the decision, issuing a statement urging the Biden administration
“to revisit its decision in the very near term and begin reopening international travel to vaccinated individuals, starting with air corridors between the U.S. and nations with similar vaccination rates.”
She noted that “closed borders have not prevented the Delta variant from entering the U.S. while vaccinations are proving incredibly durable to the virus’ evolution.”