Washington urged to reopen international travel

Washington is being urged by the US travel industry to swiftly reopen transatlantic links with the UK.

A coalition of 24 trade organisations representing a swathe of the US economy is renewing calls to lift restrictions on international travel to America by issuing a document to the Biden administration identifying principles for the return of foreign travellers.

The US economy is losing $1.5 billion in spending just from Canada, the European Union and the UK each week that travel Covid curbs remain in place, they estimate – enough money to support 10,000 American jobs.

US Travel Association president and chief executive Roger Dow said: “The travel industry agrees that being guided by the science is absolutely the correct approach, and the science has been telling us for some time that it’s possible to begin to safely reopen international travel.

“Our document continues to prioritise safety while providing a roadmap for solving for the billions of dollars in economic damage resulting from the continued restrictions on crossing our borders, in particular from allied countries with similar vaccination rates. We have the knowledge and the tools we need to restart international travel safely, and it is past time that we use them.”

Airlines for America president and chief executive Nicholas Calio added: “US airlines have been and continue to be strong advocates for a risk-based, data-driven approach to safely resuming international travel as laid out in the blueprint.

“We have leaned into science throughout this crisis, and research has consistently determined the risk of transmission onboard aircraft is very low.

“In fact, the Harvard Aviation Public Health Initiative concluded that being on an airplane is as safe if not safer than routine activities such as eating in a restaurant or going to the grocery store.

“The science is clear – it is time, if not past time, for the US government to take action and reopen travel between the US and low-risk countries.”

As immediate steps toward reopening, the blueprint urges the federal government to:

  • Quickly lift entry restrictions and reopen travel between the US and the UK, given the two countries’ similar vaccination records.Research from the Mayo Clinic shows the risk of a person infected with Covid-19 boarding a flight from the UK to the US is one out of 10,000. The same research shows that the risk of an infected passenger transmitting the virus to another passenger flying from the UK to the US is even lower, at one out of one million passengers.
  • Allow expedited entry into the US for fully vaccinated individuals from non-high-risk countries.
  • Ease entry restrictions by July 15,when the US is forecast to achieve widespread immunity and sustained declines in infections and hospitalisations.

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