UK government pushes for lifting of US travel restrictions: Sources

One hurdle to lifting the restrictions is the high number of coronavirus infections in Europe. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The British government is making a concerted effort to persuade the Trump administration to lift or soften travel restrictions that bar most people in the United Kingdom from travelling to the United States, sources briefed on the matter said.

On Nov 25, Reuters reported the White House was considering rescinding entry bans for most non-US citizens who recently were in Brazil, Britain, Ireland and 26 other European countries.

Since then there has been no decision by President Donald Trump, but UK officials have held a series of high-level talks with White House and Cabinet officials.

The White House declined to comment on Friday (Dec 18).

But in an email to Reuters, a spokesman for the UK Department for Transport said "restarting transatlantic flights is of critical importance to the economic recovery of the UK and the US, the airline industry and for British nationals, most of whom cannot enter the US. British officials continue to pursue the resolution to this issue."

The proposal to lift the travel restrictions won the backing of White House coronavirus task-force members, public health and other federal agencies, Reuters reported in November.

In October, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he had urged Trump to ease travel restrictions from Europe and Brazil to help boost the state's struggling tourism economy.

One hurdle to lifting the restrictions is the high number of coronavirus infections in Europe. The United States last week extended travel restrictions on Mexico and Canadian land border crossings through at least Jan 21.

The US restrictions barring most visitors from Europe have been in place since mid-March to address the coronavirus pandemic, barring entry of most non-US residents who have been in those countries in the previous 14 days.

Nearly all of Europe still bans most US travellers from visiting, while Britain allows American visits but requires two-weeks quarantine upon arrival.

Airlines for America, a group representing American Airlines , Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and others, told Reuters last month it has "been advocating for the federal government to set a national standard on testing in order to lift travel restrictions."

The British also raised the possibility of using testing to establish a flight bubble between London and New York or easing travel restrictions for people who have been vaccinated.

Last month, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention issued new travel and testing recommendations for international air travellers recommending they "get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before their flight to reduce spread during travel."

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