The White House has announced it will plan a new system for international travel that will include contact tracing. The United States has been closed to much of the world — including European citizens — since March 2020.
The EU has asked the United States to remove restrictions on non-essential travel into the U.S, but it hasn’t happened. However, a senior White House official suggested the new system would begin when America reopens to the world.
Unfortunately, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients, told the U.S Travel and Tourism board that the U.S wouldn’t be reopening to the rest of the world soon because of rising cases of COVID-19. That said, the current travel restrictions are costing the U.S economy $198 million daily.
The Potential New System
According to reports, the U.S government is considering vaccination requirements for entering the United States.
Jeff Zients said, “We are exploring considering vaccination requirements for foreign nationals traveling to the United States.”
He also said, “The American people need to trust that the new system for international travel is safer even as we – I mean at that point – we’ll be letting in more travelers.” ‘
Commerce Secretary Giana Raimondo suggested that the U.S wants to move towards a metrics-based system, but the current spike in COVID-19 cases worldwide is preventing the government from starting this right now.
She also said the U.S needs to get a better handle on its current domestic situation and everyone needs to get vaccinated.
Nonetheless, Jeff Zients stated the new restrictions on international arrivals would be “safer, stronger, and more sustainable.”
Many figures in the United States travel industry — which is still facing enormous damage — are concerned that Joe Biden won’t open the United States until 2022. Although Zients said the U.S wants to lift restrictions “as soon as we can.”
Contact Tracing System
Contact tracing is in place in many parts of the world, and it’s been successful in places like Australia. Jeff Zients suggested that the new system would include contact tracing, which would allow the CDC to contact travelers if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19.
The previous administration blocked an effort to require airlines to collect tracking information for U.S bound international flights due to privacy concerns.
The Current Restrictions On Entering The U.S
The United States remains one of the most challenging places to enter worldwide.
Despite its high vaccination rate and massive travel industry, the nation bars most non-U.S citizens from entering the United States if they’ve been in the following countries in the previous 14 days:
- The U.K
- The 26 Schengen nations
- South Africa
Moreover, the U.S currently bans non-essential travel from most non-U.S citizens at the Mexican and Canadian land border. And that’s despite Canada reopening to fully vaccinated U.S travelers, and Mexico having no restrictions on U.S tourists for most of the pandemic.
Various critics suggest the restrictions no longer make sense because some nations with higher rates of COVID-19 have fewer restrictions now. Many nations on the restricted list also have COVID-19 under control.
Furthermore, Europe has dropped a lot of restrictions on fully vaccinated travelers, and various Asian, South American, and African nations are reopening to fully vaccinated visitors.
Despite pressure from its own travel industry, senior politicians, and governments around the world, the U.S hasn’t set a date on its reopening.
At least this news shows the U.S is starting to plan its reopening to the world.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com