Last year, Joe Biden started out hating travel bans designed to combat the spread of COVID-19.
In January 2020 he claimed that “Trump sought to stoke fear and stigma during the 2014 Ebola epidemic” and was “in favor of reactionary travel bans that would only have made things worse.” His campaign later backtracked and said he “supports travel bans that are guided by medical experts.”
Well, now that the pandemic is under control will Biden listen to the experts who say it’s entirely possible to reopen transatlantic travel?
We could start with the U.S. and Britain. Citing a raft of scientific studies, the CEOs of 48 airlines are begging President Biden and British prime minister Boris Johnson to announce a travel corridor when they meet next month to “save economies and reunite families.”
Travel to the U.S. from Britain has been banned for non-U.S. citizens since March 2020. Travel to the U.K. from the U.S. is possible but requires a ten-day quarantine on arrival.
These restrictions have divided families, destroyed tourism, and cost tens of thousands of jobs in both countries. The airline CEOs note in a May 3 letter that over half of the vulnerable populations in both countries have been vaccinated. “The right tools now exist to enable a safe and meaningful restart to transatlantic travel. Safely reopening borders is essential for both countries’ economic recovery from Covid-19,” they conclude.
The question now is how long will President Biden continue to keep in place the sort of “reactionary travel bans” he used to rail against?