Incoming US President Joe Biden has signaled that one of his first orders of business upon assuming office will be to extend COVID-19 travel restrictions for Europe, the UK and Brazil. The move would be a direct rebuke of outgoing president Donald Trump’s recent order to lift said restrictions.
The restrictions were put in place by Trump last spring as the virus began rampaging around the globe. It’s worse now than it ever was in 2020, but nevertheless, Trump signed an order Monday to lift travel restrictions for EU countries, the UK and Brazil, providing travelers tested negative for the virus a few days before departing. To hear Trump tell it, this is “the best way to continue protecting Americans from COVID-19 while enabling travel to resume safely.” Alrighty then …
Once Trump’s order was reported in the press, Biden’s people were quick to squash the notion.
“On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26,” Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki wrote on Twitter. “In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” she added.
Thus, would-be travelers will have to find some illicit way of getting around, like disguising themselves as a package and shipping themselves via Fast Courier.
The airline industry surely isn’t happy with Biden’s stance. It had hoped that Trump’s order would translate to an uptick in travel from Europe to the US (it’s down 95 percent at the moment), although it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to take such a trip right now, when more than 3,000 Americans are dying from the virus every day.
Last Tuesday, the US set a new record with 4,197 deaths in 24 hours. In all, COVID has killed more than 400,000 Americans. Other badly hit countries include India (~150,000 deaths), Brazil (~200,000), Mexico (~140,000) and England (~90,000).
So far, efforts to distribute coronavirus vaccines in the US have been chaotic and remarkably inefficient. Biden has pledged to vaccinate 100 million people in his first 100 days in office, which is ambitious to say the least.