U.S. Covid-19 travel bans make no sense. They are about politics, not science. Lifting travel restrictions looks weak, and the administration needs to appear to be ‘doing something’.
Virus spread is increasing in the United States, but that just means that foreigners arriving from more places are less likely to carry the virus than the median unvaccinated American – double and triply so for vaccinated foreigners who test negative for Covid-19.
Unvaccinated Russians are welcomes into the U.S, while vaccinated French who test negative for Covid-19 are not – even as Americans return home from France in droves.
But how about this?
- On August 9, 2021 Canada will re-open to vaccinated Americans. Any vaccine approved in Canada is eligible, and that’s the 3 which are approved in the U.S. plus AstraZeneca. (They will re-open to the rest of the world September 7, though this could change.)
- But the U.S. won’t re-open its side of the border. So Americans can go to Canada and return, but Canadians – coming from where there’s less virus spread – can’t cross the land border into the U.S.
The White House says it ‘won’t commit’ to re-opening the Northern border.
“We are continuing to review our travel restrictions and any decisions about reopening travel will be guided by our public health and medical experts,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at the White House briefing. “We take this incredibly seriously but we look and are guided by our own medical experts. I wouldn’t look at it through a reciprocal intention.”
Remember, this is political, so the U.S. may just want to avoid making it look as though the decision is reciprocal. They’ll make their reciprocal decision ‘based on a review of the science’ in short order. But that’s just another reason why these restrictions are farce.
- Restrictions haven’t kept the virus out of the U.S.
- Restrictions haven’t kept mutations out of the U.S.
- Fully vaccinated Americans are mostly protected
- The greatest risk is to people who have chosen not to be vaccinated
- And that risk mostly comes from other vaccinated Americans, rather than visitors
There’s been a restriction on travelers coming from the European Schengen area, but did you know that travelers have been permitted from Bulgaria – which is in Europe and which has faced one of the worst outcomes in the world from Covid-19? Travel has been permitted from Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Paraguay, and Chile. All have had Covid epidemics as bad or worse than the U.S.
U.S. travel bans were slipshod and bungled by the C.D.C. when first implemented. But for all the talk of the Biden administration of reversing course on Trump administration failures, they’ve largely carried forward many of those same policies.