The widespread rise of the Delta variant is the reason why the White House has not yet given a date for when it plans to reopen travel with the EU or the U.K.–whilst there are economic and heartfelt reasons to support the reopening of transatlantic borders, there are fears for the continued spread of infections, particularly across U.S. states with low vaccination rates.
The Washington Post gave its support Tuesday for the reopening of international travel for the fully vaccinated and in London, The Financial Times quoted scientists who believed that border restrictions won’t stop variants entering the country–one of the arguments against the continued transatlantic closure is that new variants have still arrived in the U.S. while its borders were closed. Scientists noted, as quoted in the FT, that “maintaining long-term border controls or reduced travel is likely to be expensive, and only delay rather than prevent importation.”
As reported by Politico, von der Leyen said that “the epidemiological situation in the U.S. and the EU today is very similar. We need to solve the problem as soon as possible and are in contact with our American friends.”
In response to the U.K.’s lifting of a travel ban on U.S. travelers, there is now renewed pressure on the U.K. government to push the Americans to reopen travel across the Atlantic. Stuart Procter, chief operating officer at The Stafford, a luxury London hotel which relies heavily on U.S. tourists said, “it’s all fine us saying no quarantine, that’s great, but we need America to say people can go to the U.K.”
John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive, also urged the government Tuesday to allow cheaper lateral flow tests for travel (instead of lab-based PCR tests) and to work with the U.S. (and other countries) to ease remaining travel restrictions.