U.S. President-elect Joe Biden opposes the lifting of a ban on travelers from Europe and Brazil ordered by his predecessor President Donald Trump for Jan. 26, his incoming press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted on Monday.
- Trump issued a presidential proclamation on Jan. 18 lifting the ban on travelers from the European Union’s free-movement Schengen area, the U.K., Ireland and Brazil, because of his “high confidence these jurisdictions will cooperate with the U.S. in the implementation” (of mandatory COVID-19 testing for passengers).
- Psaki said in her tweet that “with the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel.”
- On the contrary, she added, the new U.S. administration plans “to strengthen public health measures around international travel,” suggesting that Biden will take steps to cancel Trump’s decision in the next few days.
- Current U.S. travel restrictions are similar to those in place with slight variations throughout Europe. The U.K. is now forcing even its own citizens to test before re-entering the country, and forces travelers into quarantine before submitting them to a second test after five days.
The outlook: Testing requirements become the global rule and will make travel even more difficult, especially since few airports are equipped to deal with the disruptions and long delays involved in official checks. And with uncertainty about the virus’ new variants, restrictions are likely to tighten, not loosen, in the next few months.
The Trump decision came as a surprise, especially considering the former president’s harsh rhetoric in the last few months. No western government has eased travel restrictions or testing requirements since new, aggressive variants of the virus were identified.