The United States served notice Monday that it will keep existing COVID-19 travel restrictions on international travel in place for now due to concerns about the surging infection rate because of the delta variant.
It was the latest sign that the White House is having to recalibrate its thinking around the coronavirus pandemic as the more infectious variant surges across the US and a substantial chunk of the population resists vaccination.
It was also a reversal from the sentiment President Joe Biden voiced earlier this month when he said his administration was “in the process” of considering how soon the US could lift the ban on European travel bound for the US after the issue was raised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to the White House.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the restrictions would continue for now.
“Driven by the delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated, and appears likely to continue in the weeks ahead,” she said.
Most of continental Europe has relaxed restrictions on Americans who are fully vaccinated, although the United Kingdom still requires quarantines for most visitors arriving from the US.
Airlines say, however, that the lack of two-way travel is limiting the number of flights they can offer and seats they can sell.
But the rise and prevalence of COVID-19 variants in Europe, especially the delta mutation, has caused the Biden administration to tread slowly about increasing transatlantic travel.