US president Joe Biden and British prime minister Boris Johnson will declare a resumption of transatlantic travel “as soon as possible.” The two leaders will meet at the G7 today. It’s their first in-person meeting, and the resumption of travel is hot on the agenda.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the two nations have banned non-essential travel. This has left families unable to meet, economic hardship for airlines, and the travel industry reeling. However, a bilateral task force will explore all options to resume travel between the two countries.
Grant Shapps MP also stated in a Sky News interview “This is one of the agreements that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Joe Biden will be launching today, we’ll be looking at how we can reopen transatlantic travel between the US and the UK.” He also added, “It is very important that we get that transatlantic relationship reset up in terms of travel between the two countries.”
The Current COVID-19 Restrictions Between The US and UK
Since March 16th, 2020, the US has not allowed British citizens to enter the country if they have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen Zone, Brazil, Iran, or China within 14 days of arrival. The US has only granted entry to British citizens with exemptions, such as UN staff and diplomats. The US has and continues to ban British citizens from entering the US for leisure purposes.
In contrast, US citizens are allowed to enter the UK. But they have to undergo a 10-day quarantine and multiple COVID-19 tests. The United Kingdom currently operates a green, amber, and red traffic light system. The British government has placed the US on the amber list, meaning all US citizens will have to self-isolate.
The Travel Industry Reaction
The travel industry has called for a resumption of travel between the US and the UK for many months. Various high-level executives at massive airline companies, including British Airways, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic wrote a shared statement on Monday.
The statement said, “With world-leading vaccination programs in both the UK and US, there is a clear opportunity to safely open up travel between these two low-risk countries, enabling consumers on both sides of the Atlantic to reconnect with loved ones, re-establish business relationships and explore new destinations after more than a year of lockdowns and restrictions.”
Nonetheless, despite this promising news, the travel industry says it doesn’t go far enough. The boss of Virgin Atlantic claims the announcement falls short, further criticizing the lack of specifics given for businesses.
In addition, Clive Wratten, the CEO of Business Travel Association states, “We welcome the formation of the Atlantic Charter 2021 as a step in the right direction for transatlantic travel. However, this is the latest in a long line of travel taskforces which so far have only wreaked further devastation on our industry.”
The Significance Of This News
Although there’s no confirmed date yet, this news is a step in the right direction. In 2019, the UK received 3.5 million visitors from the United States. In contrast, almost 5 million British citizens entered the US in 2019. The resumption of travel – in particular London and NYC – is crucial for airlines and travel companies in the two countries.
Although citizens of both countries have been able to travel throughout the pandemic, they haven’t been able to freely travel to each other. The vaccination rates between the two countries are flying. So, it shouldn’t be too long before the two governments create a travel corridor as pressure grows (perhaps before the summer ends.)
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories