Rising Delta variant cases prompt US to retain travel restrictions

Hopes that the US could ease travel restrictions for UK travellers in time to salvage some of the summer season have taken a further blow with reports that it is set to retain current restraints for the time being.

Reuters reported that the decision to retain the ban on travellers from the UK and the Schengen area “at this point” came after a senior level White House meeting on Friday.

“Given where we are today with the delta variant, the United States will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point,” the official told Reuters, citing the spread of the coronavirus strain in the US and abroad.

The White House official also cited the fact that the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last week urged Americans to avoid travel to the UK because of rising infection rates.

Reuters said the decision “almost certainly dooms any bid by US airlines and the US tourism industry to salvage summer travel” and follows warnings from industry sources in recent weeks that talks to reopen key routes would prove “difficult”.

CNN also reported the news, adding: “The Biden administration has been under growing pressure from the travel industry and US allies to lift pandemic-era restrictions limiting who can travel to the US.”

The BBC’s North America editor tweeted: “White House confirms it’s maintaining travel ban on UK and Schengen countries imposed by Pres Trump last March. Cites delta variant. Will be blow to airlines and tourism industry hoping to salvage something from summer season. But most of all blow to families desperate to reunite”

The ban was first imposed by former President Donald Trump during the early stages of the pandemic last March.

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