Trump to lift Covid-19 travel restrictions on much of Europe

Restrictions barred nearly all non-US citizens who had been in Ireland, UK and Schengen area

US President Donald Trump  is due to leave office on Wednesday. Photograph:  Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

US President Donald Trump is due to leave office on Wednesday. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

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US President Donald Trump on Monday rescinded entry bans imposed because of the coronavirus on most non-US citizens arriving from much of Europe and Brazil effective from January 26th, two officials briefed on the matter told Reuters.

It was first reported in November that the administration had been considering lifting the restrictions, imposed early last year in response to the pandemic, after winning support from coronavirus task force members and public health officials. The restrictions are set to end under a new proclamation from Mr Trump the same day that new Covid-19 test requirements take effect for all international visitors.

The White House did not immediately comment.

Mr Trump is due to leave office on Wednesday.

Last week, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed an order requiring nearly all air travellers to present a negative coronavirus test or proof of recovery from Covid-19 to enter the United States starting on January 26th.

Schengen area

The restrictions being rescinded have barred nearly all non-US citizens who within the last 14 days have been in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Brazil and the 26 countries of the Schengen area in Europe that allow travel across open borders. The US restrictions barring most visitors from Europe have been in place since mid-March when Mr Trump signed proclamations imposing them, while the Brazilian entry ban was imposed in May.

President-elect Joe Biden, once in office, could opt to reimpose the restrictions.

Last Tuesday, Marty Cetron, director of CDC’s global migration and quarantine division, told Reuters those entry bans were an “opening act strategy” to address the virus spread and should now be “actively reconsidered”.

Airlines had hoped the new testing requirements would clear the way for the administration to lift the restrictions that reduced travel from some European countries by 95 per cent or more. They had pressed senior White House officials about the issue in recent days.

Many administration officials for months argued the restrictions no longer made sense given most countries were not subject to the entry bans.

Others have argued the United States should not drop entry bans since many European countries still block most US citizens. – Reuters

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