Report: White House Panel Recommends Dropping Travel Bans
The Coronavirus Task Force proposal would include inbound travelers from the UK, Brazil and 27 EU countries
December 11, 2020
The White House Coronavirus Task Force has reportedly recommended to President Trump that the US lift the ban on travelers arriving from the United Kingdom, Brazil and the 27 countries in the European Union.
According to reports from CNBC quoting two officials involved in the discussions, the move would reverse bans on inbound travel which were imposed at the beginning of the pandemic. The ban on travel from China and Iran, would not be eased, according to these officials. Travel inbound from those two countries was restricted early in the pandemic because of the high number of cases there.
The sources said the task force recommendation was not unanimously supported, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly opposed, characterizing as “reckless” any move to reopen travel.
The task force reportedly agreed that testing and quarantine protocols international travelers need to undergo once they land would be in the hands of local authorities, such as individual airports, governors and mayors.
The recommendation is awaiting a decision from the President. According to the sources, if approved, the revised policy would be announced before Trump leaves office. However with new virus case surging, it is unlikely that any announcement would be forthcoming before the holidays.
Even if the US decides to lift its ban on incoming travel, there is no guarantee the move would be reciprocated. Worldwide significant disagreements remain between nations and regions over what steps are needed to get the spread of the virus under control. The two officials who spoke to CNBC also pointed out that with a new incoming administration, negotiations over any policy changes are further complicated.
The White House recommendations come as the UK government revamps its policy on arrivals to exempt certain business travelers from the country’s quarantine requirements.
The country is also set to launch it “test to release” program on Dec. 15 for arrivals to England from non-exempt countries. Under that requirement, after a five-day isolation period, travelers who test negative for COVID-19 will not be required to quarantine further, but they will have to pay for testing