White House: US to maintain Covid foreign travel restrictions

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The US does not intend to lift Covid-19 travel restrictions for non-Americans, the White House has said.

The decision comes amid pressure from airlines and tourism industry lobbyists to lift the sweeping ban before the end of the summer travel season.

The decision was due to a rise in infections, the Delta variant’s transmissibility and a recent advisory against travel to the UK.

Cases in the US continue to rise, particularly among the non-vaccinated.

Rising cases “appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki to reporters on Monday, so the US “will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point”.

The first round of travel restrictions due to Covid were imposed by the US on China in 2020 January.

Since then, the US ban has expanded to include non-US citizens who had recently visited the UK, the 26-nation Schengen bloc in Europe, Brazil, Ireland, India, Iran and South Africa.

Last week, Canada announced that vaccinated Americans would be allowed to visit starting on 9 August.

Despite this, the US said it will keep its borders shut to neighbours Canada and Mexico until at least 21 August.

It comes days after the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the highly-contagious Delta variant now accounts for 80% of all US cases.

On Thursday, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said that the weekly average for new infections had jumped by 53% in the previous week.

Vaccination rates have slowed in the US since peaking in the spring. US officials say nearly all new cases are appearing in those who are unvaccinated, and have begun referring to Covid as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.

Latest US Covid news:

  • Starting in mid-September, all New York City municipal workers – including firefighters, police officers and teachers will be required to be vaccinated
  • More than 50 prominent US healthcare groups have issued a joint statement calling for healthcare workers to be required to get vaccinated.
  • On Monday, the White House said that some people with the condition known as long Covid may qualify for disability assistance.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs has become the first federal government agency to require vaccinations for its healthcare staff.