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International travel restrictions to remain in place: White House

The White House announced on Monday that current restrictions on travel in and out of the United States will remain for the time being, because of the surge in the Delta variant COVID-19 cases.

“The more transmissible Delta variant is spreading both here and the around the world,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “Driven by the delta variant, cases are rising here at home particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead.”

The US has had travel restrictions in place for more than a year on parts of Europe and Brazil. But foreign countries are opening up more to Americans than America is opening up to foreign countries.

Canada has been particularly frustrated by travel restrictions. Canada is set to welcome fully-vaccinated Americans across its border on Aug. 9. But the US will not open its border to fully-vaccinated Canadians, and Mexican, until Aug. 21 at the earliest, and even that is not guaranteed. In places where business, family and tourist travel across the border from Michigan to Canada was once routine and busy, only essential travel has been allowed for more than a year.

Travel from the United States to the United Kingdom is still allowed for fully-vaccinated Americans but last week, the Centers for Disease Control urged Americans not to make that trip.

At Monday’s White House press briefing, Psaki was asked repeatedly when, or if, travel restrictions might be tightened or loosened, but she deferred to the Centers for Disease Control, “our North Star” she called it, to make recommendations that the White House would follow.

The Biden Administration is also working with teams of advisors from the European Union, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom on reaching a consensus on travel changes.

At the briefing, Psaki delivered some good news on vaccinations, which have slowed considerably in recent weeks. She said that five US states where COVID rates are rising the most, and where vaccine hesitancy is highest — California, Texas, Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana — saw vaccination rates last week that topped the national average.

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