As Canada prepares to welcome fully-vaxxed Americans into the country for the first time since the pandemic started, over in Washington, plans are brewing for the US to reopen travel only to foreigners who can prove they are fully vaccinated.
According to a Reuters exclusive, President Biden and his administration are preparing a plan to require nearly all foreign visitors to the US to be fully vaccinated. The new policy will replace the current border restrictions, which bar travelers from most of the world from reaching the US.
Because COVID cases are still climbing, the White House isn't ready to simply lift all travel restrictions. That's where the border restrictions come in: The Biden administration has interagency working groups working "in order to have a new system ready for when we can reopen travel." When this happens, the US will start with "a phased approach that over time will mean, with limited exceptions, that foreign nationals traveling to the United States (from all countries) need to be fully vaccinated."
Last week, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the Biden Administration planned to maintain its travel restrictions on visitors from Europe and elsewhere. The announcement was a blow to the travel industry, which had hoped that a lifting of the travel bans could increase tourism for the remaining summer months, helping hotels, airlines and other businesses that have been struggling since the start of the pandemic.
Even the liberal Washington Post complained about Biden's decision to continue restricting travel, with one opinion writer claiming that the continued moratorium on international travel was both "medically unnecessary and financially unwise," per WaPo.
However, we suspect some foreign governments might be offended when the US inevitably excludes travelers who received a foreign vaccine, including those made by Russia and China. Or when foreigners from certain countries have been shut out of the US for years, as the developing world waits for the emerging world to catch up on vaccinations.
Washington's cautiousness mirrors the return of travel restrictions in Europe, where pubic health officials are cracking down to combat the delta variant. The report comes less than a week after President Biden announced new requirements for federal workers to get vaccinated (with a handful of exceptions). But on the bright side, pretty soon, Americans might be flocking to the Caribbean to make up for two summer travel seasons spoiled by the pandemic.