President Joe Biden said on Thursday that he expected an answer from his COVID-19 advisors as to when a travel ban on most of Europe could be lifted within days” after a meeting at the White House with German Chancellor Angela Merkel who pressed the President on the issue.
“It’s in process now,” Biden told a news conference following the meeting with Merkel. “I’m waiting to hear from our folks, our Covid team, as to when that should be done.” Biden said he expected an answer “within the next several days”.
The travel ban was originally brought in by then-President Trump in March 2020 and covers Europe’s free-travel Schengen zone and the Republic of Ireland. Donald Trump attempted to lift the ban just before leaving office but the so-called 212(f) travel ban was extended indefinitely shortly after took Biden took office.
In recent weeks, the European Union has lifted its own travel ban to fully vaccinated Americans who are now allowed to travel freely but non-US citizens and residents are banned from travelling to the United States if they’ve been in Europe in the last 14-days.
Little progress has been made on the issues but during the G7 meeting in England last month, the United States agreed to set up working groups with Europe, the UK, Canada and Mexico to find ways to ease the current travel restrictions.
Hopes of finding a solution quickly, however, were dashed by the rapid spread of the Delta variant across the UK and Europe. The variant now threatens a resurgence in cases in the US where vaccination rates are flagging.
Biden did not indicate when the travel ban might be lifted or under what circumstances. It also wasn’t immediately clear whether it only applied to Europe or to the UK and other countries.
The ban on travel from South Africa, India, Iran, Brazil and China is likely to remain in force.
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Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.