According to Reuters, German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently broached the issue of allowing travelers from most European countries to re-enter the United States. Biden told Merkel the U.S. was thinking of lifting restrictions “within the next several days… I’m waiting to hear from our folks in our COVID team as to when that should be done.”
Merkel and Biden discussed the Delta variant and admitted the process of re-opening the borders is very complicated, as “It has to be a sustainable decision. It is certainly not sensible to have to take it back after only a few days.”
The ban on non-citizens entering the U.S. from most European countries has been in effect since the early days of the pandemic imposed by President Trump in March 2020. Nonetheless, many countries not subject to any travel restrictions have much higher COVID-19 rates than most European countries.
Many airlines and tourism officials have urged Biden to lift restrictions covering most non-citizens who have recently been to the 26 Schengen nations, Britain, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran, and Brazil. However, the Biden Administration had resisted this pressure for months.
“There are further discussions to be had before we can announce any next steps on travel reopening with any country… We want to ensure that we move deliberately and are in a position to sustainably reopen international travel when it is safe to do so,” a White House official told Reuters just last week.