The United States is not ready to lift restrictions on international travel as the Covid-19 delta variant gains a bigger foothold around the world, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a press briefing on Monday.
“Given where we are today, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point,” Psaki said. “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.”
The statement came after chatter over the past few weeks seemed to indicate a lifting of the ban was forthcoming. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo in June listed restarting international travel as a “top priority” of the federal government, and President Joe Biden earlier this month during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel said an announcement was forthcoming. Several countries in Europe, meanwhile, have been lifting restrictions and allowing vaccinated visitors from the United States.
The White House, however, is using the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as its “north star” on any such decisions, Psaki said on Monday. In its weekly update last Friday, the CDC reported a seven-day average of 40,246 new daily Covid-19 cases, up 46.7 percent from the prior week. The delta variant makes up 83.2 percent of recent U.S. cases, according to the CDC.
The CDC last week also issued a Level 4 advisory against travel to the United Kingdom due to rising Covid-19 cases there, noting that “even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covid-19.”