The United States of America has one of the most confusing approaches to international travel restrictions of any major nation. It sounds as though it will be some time before this changes.
Visitors from countries with high covid-19 transmission and low vaccination rates, such Mexico or Indonesia, are allowed to enter the country without vaccination. However, highly vaccinated travellers from Europe's Schengen Zone and the United Kingdom are prohibited from entering.
Biden Administration claims that it is guided by science in border measures. However, scientists and epidemiologists would not be able to explain to them why current restrictions and bans make sense.
That's the good news: it will change.
It's likely to take some time, which is the bad news.
Jeff Zients is the White House Coordinator for Covid-19 response. He said that the administration is currently looking into a new system to allow international travel. The new system will eventually replace existing bans and restrictions by a metric-based system.
US Develops New International Travel System
The short and long of the new US international travel system proposals are that they will likely contain a vaccination mandate to all visitors.
The Biden Administration takes flack for inconsistent travel measures. They allow unchecked entry from many countries with only one negative test, but continue to ban fully vaccinated travelers from trusted partners across Europe.
American citizens need to believe that the new system of international travel is safer, even though we will be allowing more travelers. We are currently looking into vaccination requirements for foreign nationals who travel to the United States. Jeff Zients and White House Covid-19 coordination
According to Reuters Mr Zients told the U.S. Travel and Tourism Board that he did not intend to relax the travel restrictions for foreigners immediately.
This news is devastating for many business sectors, including those who are eager to reopen transatlantic connections. The prolonged closures between the US and UK are causing trade losses of more than $300 million per day, according to lobby groups representing American businesses.
Now the question is how this new international travel system might be implemented. Many European countries have started requiring proof that they have been immunized for entry. The US seems to be following suit. However, many of these countries chose not to spend their time on complex IT projects and instead opt to show proof at the border, which can also be checked before you board.
The US may be considering incorporating vaccination proof into existing ESTA visa-waiver system or a new tech system. This could cause a long delay in any reopening plans. There are also reports that there are new requirements for contact tracing for all visitors.
What are other countries doing?
A unique EU DCC digital covid-19 pass was created by the European Union based on digital vaccination records from all member countries. The certificate can be used in all EU countries. Americans and other visitors can also have their vaccination records entered into the system prior to visiting or upon arrival.
This digital, secure system has simplified border entry and allowed countries safe reopening. The only requirement is that all visitors have been fully vaccinated.
On the other hand, the US uses paper vaccination certificates that can be easily forged and doesn't have a central digital repository of all covid-19 vaccines. This is due to the fact that there are different records systems in every state. Data can't be easily matched and communicate.
Only a few states offer secure digital vaccination certificates, such as New York, with the Excelsior Pass.
Are delays in US travel being reopened again?
Although plans are being made to establish a new system of entry into the United States, bureaucracy is slow to move.
Numerous government agencies will have to sign off on the plans. Digital solutions may be required, US Customs and Border Protection Officers, and also airlines will all need to know.
Frustrations over the current US entry restrictions in Europe are rampant. The US opened its doors to Americans with the expectation that all Europeans who have been fully vaccinated would reciprocate.
Despite appeals by leaders including an Angela Merkel White House visit, US officials have blocked UK and European visitors from entering the country.
In retaliation, many European countries have closed their doors to Americans. New restrictions on US travel to other countries are likely unless a new international travel system can be established quickly.