Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, announced on Monday that the United States will keep broad bans on foreign visitors because of the Delta variant of COVID-19. These restrictions will be extended even while many other countries are relaxing their rules and allowing US citizens to visit following widespread vaccination.
Psaki said at her daily briefing, “We will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons. The more transmissible Delta variant is spreading both here and around the world.”
“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,” she also stated.
Ayesha Rascoe, a reporter with National Public Radio pressed the press secretary on the logic of keeping out foreign citizens when the Delta variant is now the predominant version of the virus in the US.
“The Delta variant is already dominant in the US, so how does keeping people from foreign countries out protect people in the US?” Rascoe said.
Psaki responded, “I’m not a doctor or a medical expert. I think that that would best be posed to a member of the CDC or one of our doctors. But I think their decision was made based on the fact that the Delta variant is more transmissible and is spreading around the world. Yes, it is the dominant variant here in the United States, but that doesn’t mean that having more people who have the Delta variant is the right step.”
It has been since January that all travelers entering the US, including returning US citizens, must show that they tested negative for the virus.
The Daily Wire reported last week that the United States announced that land border closures between the U.S. and Mexico and the U.S. and Canada will be extended, barring non-essential travel while officials continue to weigh options.
And USA Today wrote, “U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada will remain closed through Aug. 21, according to documents to be published in the Federal Register. The previous U.S. border restrictions were set to end Thursday.”
Angelo Fernandez, a spokesperson for the Department of Human Services, said, “DHS is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably.”
USA Today reported last month, “The European Union on Friday added the U.S. to a list of countries for which travel restrictions should gradually be lifted. The list applies to all American tourists, vaccinated or not, for nonessential travel.”
The United States continues to ban residents of Europe’s 26-country Schengen Zone, even though other regions of the world have more infections and lower vaccination rates. America also bans travel from the UK, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, Iran and China due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Center for Disease Control urged the people of the United States not to travel to the UK due to an increase in COVID-19 infections there. Psaki did say that there was promising news from the UK showing that vaccines protect people against serious illness.
“The United Kingdom, which is experiencing its own surge in cases driven by Delta, showed hospitalization rates down 73 percent compared to December when there were nearly identical case rates but almost no vaccinations,” Psaki said.
“And what that means is the vaccinations are protecting people from hospitalizations in the United Kingdom, which is a positive sign, and deaths are down 93 percent, further proof that getting fully vaccinated is the best thing anyone can do to protect themselves and those around them,” Psaki also noted.