U.S. Prepares To Drop European Travel Ban (In Order To Troll Joe Biden On China)

There are basically two reasons to impose a travel ban during a pandemic:

  1. The virus is not currently spreading in the community, and a travel ban may avoiding importing the virus. That’s why restrictions in low-transmission countries like New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos (among others) can make good sense.

  2. The hospital system is in danger of becoming overloaded. Even if the virus is already spreading, bringing more into a community could tip over a hospital system to the point that care might have to be rationed.

If a virus is already spreading but not overwhelming hospitals then travel bans don’t really serve a significant public health purpose. Where virus is widespread, adding incremental cases doesn’t change the trajectory of the pandemic.

U.S. Travel Bans Have Failed

In the U.S. the China travel ban was badly implemented and porous. The European travel ban came too late, after the virus was already spreading in the Northeast. These bans generally forbid entry into the U.S. by non-residents who had been in either area within 14 days of arrival. Iran and Brazil were added to the list of forbidden countries as well.

The U.S. never imposed a domestic travel ban, and the virus spread from hot spots throughout the country. And it never imposed travel bans on Bahrain, Qatar, or Armenia which have more per capita cases than the U.S. nor was India with over 9 million confirmed cases (and may have had over 100 million infections by summer).

Lifting Europe Travel Ban Now Is Odd Timing

It’s rather odd timing – when some health systems in the U.S. are being overloaded, and the virus is spreading widely in Europe – but the Trump administration is considering lifting the ban on arrivals from Europe and Brazil. They are not, apparently, considering lifting the ban on arrivals from China which has largely had its Covid-19 outbreak under control for more than half a year.

Meanwhile the U.S. CDC would like to see arriving passengers test negative 1-3 days prior to travel, quarantine on arrival, and then test again 3-5 days later. That would limit the number of people traveling with the virus and keep most people who have it from spreading it. The CDC has proven itself incapable of managing such a regime which would be more appropriate for a country like Singapore that’s trying to contain the virus than a country experiencing uncontained spread.

Trump Administration Appears To Be Trying To Position Biden As Soft On China

If the U.S. were to lift the European an Brazil travel bans, which have failed to mitigate U.S. spread of the virus, this would not be reciprocal: U.S. travelers would still face restrictions entering Europe. And it would leave travelers from China and Iran as the only ones in the world we’re officially worried about, a tell more about the current administration’s animosities than of sound policy.

It would appear that the administration is looking to make this change before the handover of power, so that the story about any future relaxation of restrictions is specifically focused on China – rather than allowing a Biden administration to lift all restrictions at once, making the story about travel restrictions broadly. The one frame that’s seemed to work best in predicting policy during the current administration has been that ‘owning the libs’ is more important than advancing any particular desired public policy.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Biden could take office, pull down his pants, expose his pecker, and submit to a live on-air castration performed by China, and he would still be a better president and less of a national embarrassment than Trump.

  2. What @Jason said. In fact, Biden could just not bother showing up for 4 years and still be a better pres than TRamp. This is only bring mulled now as it’s the exactly opposite of what any sane person would do.

  3. “ ‘Owning the libs’ is more important than advancing any particular desired public policy.”
    Explains the last 4 years perfectly.

  4. US medical care systems in November are already at the tip of being overloaded in various parts of the country. Even in rural hospital systems, the intensive care facilities have been close to the tipping point or full in various parts, and a growing proportion of such medical facilities have gone back to trying to avoid using their capacity for “elective procedures”.

    The Trump virus spreading has set the country up for another major decline in the GDP contribution that comes from the healthcare system.

    Biden is inheriting a mess from Trump like no other. Even the mess Obama inherited from Trump — and eventually turned around to give us the strong economy than ran into the Trump years until Trump’s mismanagement of this coronavirus put that to an end — is a relative walk in the park compared to what Biden-Harris are being delivered by Trump&Co.

  5. The current disaster continues until vaccines are widely available, then the blanket bans will be replaced by vaccination requirements. Can’t happen soon enough.

  6. And Obama jammed through hundreds of regulations and executive orders in his final months after using a yahoo article to get a Fisa warrant to spy on Trump. If lifting the European travel ban is trolling, what do you call that?

  7. Democrats suck; they love high taxes, support looters and rioters as “social activism activies,” make illegals into citizens to gain access to new voters, and create magnets for illegals giving them free healthcare and stimulus checks.

  8. The travel bans were an easily predictable failure because they came too late. Really the better course is to do what SIN, NZ (and even HI) did and that is to impose a strict 2-week quarantine for all inbound passengers- no exceptions – at a hotel or other facility where you can’t cheat. Instead we allowed thousands of US citizens to stand in hours long lines when they arrived at ORD, etc. – a superspreading event that took place every day in many locations.
    That said it will be fine with me if we keep the China travel ban in place. China needs to be punished for deliberately infecting the world and causing millions to die.

  9. Biden IS soft on China, regardless of what Trump does in the next 2 months. Biden is the king of Chinese corruption in America. America continues to struggle w/ Covid AS DOES THE REST OF THE WORLD. Because of the outstanding business/govt partnerships and the gov’s “at-risk funding” of Coovid research, the U.S. has vaccines in less than 1 yr… this has never happened before! If Biden or Clinton had been president instead of Trump, we’d be nowhere near as close to a vaccine. If nothing else, the Trump presidency has shown me which Americans have ugly judgmental hypocritical souls. The virus came from China. The vaccines came from Trump.

  10. @Lindy: Not sure why Trump is the reason the vaccines are here, given that at least one (Pfizer) took zero money to develop the vaccines from the US (it was developed in Germany).

    What did Trump do exactly to support these vaccines in such a way that we could not be as close to a vaccine with someone else in the White House? Multiple countries have a vaccine ready to go because of similar types of ‘at-risk funding’, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is doing something similar with the Oxford vaccine. It makes me think that the person in the White House didn’t have had much of an impact on vaccine creation.

  11. Rob,

    Obama never got a FISA warrant to monitor Trump-affiliated parties. Obama kept his hands off from being involved in what the FBI/DOJ decided to do with the Trump campaign-affiliated parties when seeking the warrants that covered them. Have you considered who in the federal judiciary approved those warrants? It was definitely not Obama and not even any Obama Admin officials, so go cry us a river of crocodile tears about how the Trump-appointed judge who voted against Trump’s phony voter fraud election claims in Pennsylvania is part of the “deep state conspiracy” too.


    The Trump-Kushner family are the kings of “Chinese corruption in America”. Or have you ignored how CCP-affiliated Chinese bought up favors with Trump & Co via Trump’s club in Florida and elsewhere. Have you ignored how the Trump-Kushner family was trying to sell “investor visas” to real-estate buyers from China? Or have you ignored how Ivanka Trump got favors from China too?

    Until Covid-19 was hitting Trump’s re-election chances, Trump was a Chinese lapdog who barked loud but gave China what it wanted — even screwing the Wisconsin and Michigan and Minnesota taxpayers in the process.

  12. Biden is China’s puppet. Hunter sure benefited from the 1.5B China gave him. Do the ignorant people here really think China will give up that money without getting more in return from favors from Biden? Biden gave Ukraine a billion of tax payers dollars after they agreed to fire the prosecutor that was going after Hunter.

  13. An excellent idea. Let’s start getting the world back to normal. It’s hardly likely that Europeans are going to start flooding into the USA just because the borders are again open. And those that do will be a minuscule contribution to the infected numbers that already exist within our borders.
    I don’t give a rat’s aperture what it signals or the reasons for it.

  14. @S10
    Whew I’m glad Hunter Biden isn’t President…

    And what about the Russian puppet we’ve had the last 4 years…crickets…

  15. Hunter Biden got $1.5 billion from China? Those must be Zimbabwe dollars or he must have blown all of it away on blow. He certainly hasn’t raked in as much money from corruption as Trump and the rest of the Trump-Kushner crime family members who have been licking up all the money and other material favors given to them by the authoritarian rulers, the authoritarian-supporting ruling class and hanger-ons from Russia, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and so on.

    I don’t know if everyone knows this, but Joe Biden was literally the poorest US Senator there was for nearly his entire career in the US Senate. He literally had a net worth so modest that he was the walking and talking exception to the Senate’s being a “millionaires’ club”. Unlike with the corrupt Donald J Trump, Biden actually released his federal income tax filings in recent decades and also filed net worth statements available for public review.

  16. Trump’s China ban was a porous ban; and China really seems to have been less of a source of community spread in the US than Europe has been. Either way, travel bans are an inefficient way of trying to control spread of a highly communicable respiratory/vascular disease. More efficient to do something like a mandatory state institution quarantine on arrival so as to depress travel demand even from the significant number of people formally exempted from a travel ban. And even more efficient than that is to have a robust testing protocol.

    I can tell you from my flights from Europe to the US during this year — including right after the US travel ban for Europe went into place in mid-March — what Trump gave America was a public health disaster courtesy of public health security theater. Trump & Co missed the most important thing for a disease like Covid-19: a robust testing and tracing regime from the start.

    About claims that China should get the blame for this virus spreading in America, keep in mind that the vaccines coming out next month for implementation are a direct result of China electronically distributing the genetic code for this virus to the American and European scientific communities in January 2020. And within 2 days of China sharing that information, Moderna used that Chinese-supplied information to know what to do for a vaccine against Covid-19.

  17. to the people here who watch “Fox News” you should look up how many times they have been sued and win because their lawyers say “no one believes anything Tucker Carlson says” the courts agree, they “They lie and no one takes them seriously”

    Except many people here take them seriously, and that is why there is a big problem in America.

    Why anyone wants to make an 89 year Australian richer when he got booted from the UK is as crazy as “Trumpism” itself.

  18. @Liberal Gary Leff, With this being a travel site and not a political site it would be nice to see some non biased articles from you at some point.

  19. No, the US health system is not about to tip over. The winter season always brings more hospitalizations…always. The overall hospitalizations this year is about 8% higher than the year before. Some of that is still from a backlog of elective surgeries that were delayed for months. Various cities do have an increase that is higher than normal, but the hospital system is very capable as we head into December. I speak as someone that is familiar to the health system in the south and northeast. I cannot speak for other regions. The nation has more than 400,000 hospital beds available as of today, and approximately 12.5% of beds occupied are by patients with COVID. Please keep in mind that if a patient chooses to receive any therapeutic (remdesivir, regeneron, Eli Lilly, antibody cocktails, etc) those patients will require hospitalization and the antibody cocktails were just introduced and delivered to hospitals in the month of November. I wanted to explain the situation in hospitals because there is plenty of misinformation out there which tries to make the situation seem dire and that results in people not going to hospitals for treatment that they need or the attention they require. Our hospital system is strong and is far being stressed at this time. Let’s hope this continues.

    As for the travel restrictions, I would expect the EU to modify its restrictions on Americans in the coming weeks. If EU citizens are allowed to enter the US, that means a boost for tourism and more for the US. As long as their hospital situation improves, I would expect the EU to reciprocate.

    Stay healthy and think positive!

  20. @S10 – it’s so funny, i’m equally chastised as ‘view from the right wing’!

    How can the status of travel bans not be… travel.

    What that I’ve written here do you think is incorrect?

  21. Prediction : Far right Wingers like this S10 above will eventually claim that fastening their seatbelts infringes on their personal rights; its their body, their right to choose.

    Masks were just the start.

    They will all be banned from flying so the silver lining is more seats for sane frequent flyers.

  22. @Gary Leff, Honestly it is the jabs you always feel the need to throw at Republicans and not Democrats. Trump administration only cares about “owning the libs” is one example of you bringing your liberal opinion. You have also wrote articles on Republicans not wearing masks in airports but when democrat Dianne Feinstein does the same thing there was no article from you. I am truly interested in reading the articles the left said were leaning right. When politics are involved in your articles all of them that I have read are strongly left of center.

  23. @S10. You considered going back to your safe space so you dont have to be upset about people not being nice to Trump?

    Also, I’ve very literally never seen someone like you respond and actually make points. Its always:

    “You libs are so biased! How could you hate on Donald Trump for very certainly being corrupt? What about Hunter Biden, Hillary, AOC, or Dianne Feinstein? None of whom have done anything remotely similar. Its exactly the same! And if you don’t agree with my awkward insane ramblings you’re a left winger.”

    Just go away and stop being such a sad shell of an excuse for a man.

  24. I don’t think throwing our borders open to Europe and Brazil is the way to go. In the present time we don’t need more people coming into the US with hospital capacity as limited as it is. In the future when we get this virus under control there is a very good chance that Brazil will still not have the situation under control. Europe might recover by then, but for countries where covid continues to rage once the US recovers there needs to be restrictions. It doesn’t need to be a total ban, but there needs to at least be significant and strongly enforced testing /quarantine requirements for people coming from a place where COVID is worse than the US. If the US can’t enforce this then maybe bans need to remain in place until those countries have vaccinations and people are able to show proof that they are vaccinated. There is no excuse for the China travel ban other than the current administration is a joke.

  25. @s10 Its obvious to the rest of the country that is not a die hard trump fan that he is deliberately sabotaging the country in a way to make it much more difficult for Biden to govern. Only people who are delusional would refuse to see that.

  26. Just wonder what value all these kiddy flyers extolling their extreme perspectives, built upon limited life experience and knowledge, would actually place on actions over the past 4 years, including:
    -no new wars, as compared to how many of the past decades?
    -the treacherous Iran deal forcing our head up our ass has been disbanded for the U.S. now has throttled Iran; Iran is now forced to deal with the U.S. with Tehran’s head far up its ass unable to threaten any of its neighbors and preach hegemony.
    -the U.S. has eliminated Iran’s principle director of terrorism; threatening Europe and the Middle East.
    -thanks to the direct intervention of the U.S., the Middle East-and the world-can breathe a sigh of relief with peace treaties between Israel and multiple Arab countries in the Middle East.
    -the U.S. military has never been stronger since Reagan.
    -until the surprise attack by the “Wuhan Virus,” the U.S. economy was on an unprecedented growth streak never before achieved.
    -the U.S. identified and freed itself from the self-destructive program of the Paris accords.
    -the U.S. walked from the other Paris Accord that overtly favored Red China and India over our own national interests re the environment.

    In face of these irrefutable facts, how can anybody trivialize the 4 years enjoyed under Trump. But for the rigged voting system thrusted upon the U.S., Trump would have easily enjoyed another term to serve America.

    With Biden and his Ivy League cabinet in place, it will not take long for all to realize what has been lost.

    Those who served in the wars1111 created by the Ivy Leaguers from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, as well as over the seas remember well the fatal decisions that led to needless deaths. Perhaps one day soon those who mock the past term of President Trump will understand history and his role to stop the insanity of surgical strike, temporal incursions where we had no sense of the history and perspective of our role.

    For those making their jokes, was it not JFK so eager to fill in on the defeated French colonial army at Dien Bien Phu; LBJ was all in by 1965?

    For the thousands of dead and wounded who smirked before, think!

  27. Probably will stop reading your blog, which I used to consider informative, as I don’t care what your political opinions are. Also, its so easy to criticize how the Covid bans, in your opinion, were not handled correctly. This was unchartered territory, especially since China wasn’t up front with what was really happening. Stick to Airline happenings or I’m out.

  28. Bet this gets click, including mine . So predictable, Gary, the “thought leader”. Trumps a douche game over.

  29. @Mike, I have no idea what point you are trying to make about the Iran deal, maybe try writing coherently instead of repetitively referring to heads up asses.

    The peace treaties are nice enough gestures but there was literally no risk that Bahrain was going to attack Israel so it’s just pointless theater.

    You claim to hate wars yet boast how strong the military is (a completely unquantifiable concept). And you celebrate the assassination of an Iranian military leader, which is an act of war. Try to be consistent, dear!

    The US economy was on exactly the same trajectory as under Obama.

    You listed the Paris accords twice in a pathetic attempt to make Trump’s list of achievements look more impressive.

    …Back to the topic of the article, I agree that the China travel ban is just petty politics and not based on the actual public health risk.

  30. Ya’ll realize the travel ban is not a comprehensive travel ban. I had relatives traveling between China and the United States for months now. If you are a green card holder, you can fly right in without even a temperature check. When they arrived in China, they had to quarantine for 2 weeks in a designated hotel and get covid tests daily. When they returned to the US, they just walked right in…. This China ban trump keeps talking about is a joke…

  31. @ Mark. Very well stated but unfortunately wasted on an audience that gets it’s information from networks fed “news” by the Democratic Party, the US bureaucrats and cartoon memes. Never in our history have so many known so little . . . .and proudly display their ignorance. It is indicative of a colossal failure of our education system. Everyone gets a trophy, even for failure, because self-esteem is deemed more important than knowledge.

  32. Gary is obviously far left of center. His extreme left lean is obvious but based on his response here he is trying to claim he is politically unbiased lol..

  33. Gary is obviously far left of center. His extreme left lean is obvious but based on his response here he is trying to claim he is politically unbiased lol..

  34. At least Gary is admitting to writing with a strong liberal bias. It is important for readers to know this site is like the CNN for travel and the opinions will come with a liberal spin.

  35. @gary, irony is wasted on idiots like Phil and S10 who equate fact-based reporting with a “liberal bias.”

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