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America’s Pandemic Travel Bans No Longer Make Sense

1 80 1
13.09.2021

Many countries around the world, concerned over the economic and human costs of the lengthy shutdown of international travel during the pandemic, are busy experimenting with how to reopen their borders while protecting their citizens. The United States, in stark contrast, is locked down even more tightly than it was when the Trump administration first put travel restrictions in place at the start of the outbreak. Against all common sense, fully vaccinated travelers from many countries with much lower case rates than the United States remain blocked.

Amid the tribal fights that roil American politics daily, liberals and conservatives seem to have found strange common ground on closed borders. The left fears the virus; the right fears foreigners. The result has been a policy gridlock that is increasingly isolating the United States, especially from its closest allies, while doing nothing to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Many countries that have endured several COVID-19 waves are nonetheless trying to re-open their borders as conditions permit. European Union member states have for many months regularly updated their lists of restricted countries based on the latest epidemiological data. Most have now opened to foreign travelers, generally requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before arrival. The EU recently removed the United States from its safe travel list due to the surge of the delta variant, but Germany, France, Spain, and most other EU member states are still permitting travel by fully vaccinated Americans or those recovered from COVID-19 and naturally immune. Only a handful of European countries, such as Norway and Bulgaria, have opted to close to U.S. visitors, while some others allow only limited essential travel.

Many countries around the world, concerned over the economic and human costs of the lengthy shutdown of international travel during the pandemic, are busy experimenting with how to reopen their borders while protecting their citizens. The United States, in stark contrast, is locked down even more tightly than it was when the Trump administration first put travel restrictions in place at the start of the outbreak. Against all common sense, fully vaccinated travelers from many countries with much lower case rates than the United States remain blocked.

Amid the tribal fights that roil American politics daily, liberals and conservatives seem to have found strange common ground on closed borders. The left fears the virus; the right fears foreigners. The result has been a policy gridlock that is increasingly isolating the United States, especially from its closest allies, while doing nothing to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Many countries that have endured several COVID-19 waves are nonetheless trying to re-open their borders as conditions permit. European Union member states have for many months regularly updated their lists of restricted countries based on the latest epidemiological data. Most have now opened to foreign travelers, generally requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before arrival. The EU recently removed the United States from its safe travel list due to the surge of the delta variant, but Germany, France, Spain, and most other EU member states are still permitting travel by fully vaccinated Americans or those recovered from COVID-19 and naturally immune. Only a handful of European countries, such as Norway and Bulgaria, have opted to close to U.S. visitors, while some others allow only limited essential travel.

Canada, for many months, took a hard line by Western standards. Ottawa barred most non-essential incoming travel and forced both returning Canadians and international visitors into costly quarantine hotels. But it still experimented during the pandemic with reduced quarantine times for some travelers who tested negative for COVID-19 (a short-lived experiment) and created broad exemptions for family members and long-term partners of Canadians. And in early September, Canada opened its borders to all........

© Foreign Policy


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