U.S. Won’t Lift Foreign Travel Restrictions

The U.S. has kept its land borders with Canada and Mexico closed to non-essential traffic, even as Americans flock to vacation in Mexico in record numbers (American Airlines says they’re looking for any airport they don’t currently fly to with a paved runway) and even as Canada announced its re-opening to Americans and others.

The U.S. has also continued to ban travelers who’ve been in China, Iran, the European Schengen area, U.K. and Ireland, Brazil, South Africa or India in the prior 14 days.

While there has been significant discussion of when the U.S. would lift its restrictions, but it appears that may now be off the table.

This is such a strange policy.

  • The virus is spreading wildly in the U.S., and we’re keeping out people in many cases less likely to have Covid-19 than those already here

  • Unvaccinated Americans can travel to Mexico and return unhindered, while vaccinated Europeans who test negative for Covid-19 cannot enter.

  • We aren’t trying to ‘contain’ the virus, or even the Delta variant, it is already here.

This policy doesn’t appear to accomplish anything. It’s for show, but with real consequences separating families and raising the cost of doing business.

Meanwhile we know that even where there are breakthrough cases among the vaccinated, they are far less likely to result in severe disease or hospitalization. That means actions we’re taking to protect people from the virus impose costs on the vaccinated to protect those who choose not to get vaccinated. (Children under 12 who cannot yet get vaccinated are at statistically lower risk than older Americans who have been vaccinated).

(HT: @crucker)

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. Restrictions will only end when the current occupant of the WhiteHouse is impeached or otherwise removed from office.

  2. More silliness from Gary – the self-proclaimed number one expert on COVID. Nearly all countries have correctly focused on delivering services to domestic environment and nationals looking to return home. It’s not so much a strong objection to revising policies as different priorities. It will happen but figuring out how to address domestic mask mandate expiration is so much more relevant to Americans. This is an issue for nationals of these countries trying to reconnect with family (real issue but most don’t vote in the US) and bloggers (bad for hawking credit cards). Applying actual logic to US access policies would be nice and is overdue but can wait until US gets own house in order.

  3. Why are you whining, transatlantic award availability has been amazing this summer. If you can live without 1st class.

  4. @miamiorbust. It is possible to do both. There are real familial consequences of the ban (eg not being allowed to visit dieing family members) and real business consequences. Meanwhile the President’s buddies come and go as they please – but they don’t provide employment.

    It’s only still in place because this Administration, and the previous one, are acting like rabbits caught in the headlights.

  5. I say let them come! If people here don’t want to get vaccinated, I say it is a welcome return of natural selection to our species that will combat the rampant epidemic of stupidity that has taken hold and is a far greater threat than any virus. Stop protecting the stupid and let the problem take care of it’s self. That also has the side effect of letting those smart enough to be vaccinated get on with their lives!

  6. Regardless of your feelings regarding the travel restrictions to not allow vaccinated travelers (maybe also require a negative COVID test in line with the additional restrictions Iceland is implementing this week) makes a lot more sense than simply blocking entrance. Also, I wonder how long it will be before other countries that opened travel to Americans close it down if we don’t have a similar policy. I’m sure the “never leave my house to avoid the dreaded disease” crowd (I am fully vaccinated and take precautions so am certainly not a COVID denier just looking for a reasonable balance) would be say don’t travel at all but that just isn’t going to happen for most people.

    What is most curious about this is the selection of countries we have banned from having their citizens enter the US. While I can sort of understand having a ban against India, Brazil, etc that have higher infections (although vaccination and a negative test should cover that), how is it appropriate to ban citizens from the Schengen area, the UK and Ireland while allowing citizens from most of Central and South America (including Chile and Argentina which have major outbreaks) along with certain Eastern European countries which much higher rates of infection that the Schengen area countries.

    This is not about science (since not a blanket ban based on certain criteria) or an approach to allow access to very low risk individuals (vaccine and negative test does that) but simply a political statement. Frankly the EU with their “traffic light” rating of countries is at least based on something besides who our leaders (both parties since Trump started this and Biden has continued it) decide not to let in.


  7. @ John — Well, since the current occupant of the White House isn’t Donald Trump, don’t expect any impeachment anytime soon. Remember, Trump has spent the last 6 years lying to Americans and spent 4 years racketeering from the White House. It will take time to dig out of the mess created by Trump, the worst POTUS in U.S. history.

  8. Wow….didn’t take long for you ignorant fools to come out of the woodwork and turn this into a republiscum vs democrite argument did it……and you all wonder why nothing ever changes in this country increasingly full of morons and idiots. Here’s hoping you refuse vaccination and COVID comes for you too!

  9. Just go down to the southern boarder to get in or out.

    Amazing how they’re not worried about American citizens being exposed to the million plus illegals through the southern boarder since incompetent policy implemented by current administration.

  10. The previous administration did a lot to get us into this mess, and the current one has no strategy and little interest in getting is out of it. Both are xenophobic and neither is or was guided by science. Let vaccinated people in. Keep unvaccinated people out. Get vaccines out to places that don’t have them yet.

  11. The “follow the science” mantra has become silly. A couple of hundred years ago following the science would have been bleeding to excise “humours” and attaching leeches to body parts. Common sense is always an essential ingredient and it seems to be lacking in our political and health care “elite.”

  12. Time for the contrarian truth boys and girls.

    Based on the scientific evidence, the narrative that unvaccinated people are viral factories for more dangerous variants is false!!

    Just as antibiotics breed resistance in bacteria, vaccines put evolutionary pressure on viruses to speed up mutations and create more virulent and dangerous variants.

    Viruses mutate all the time, and if you have a vaccine that doesn’t block infection completely, then the virus will mutate to evade the immune response within that person. That is one of the distinct features of the COVID shots — they’re not designed to block infection. They allow infection to occur and at best lessen the symptoms of that infection.

    In an unvaccinated person, the virus does not encounter the same evolutionary pressure to mutate into something stronger. So, if SARS-CoV-2 does end up mutating into more lethal strains, then mass vaccination is the most likely driver.

    So far, SARS-CoV-2 variants are at most 0.3% different from the original man-made virus. Such minor variation means the virus will not present itself as a new virus. If you’ve recovered from COVID-19, your immune system will still recognize it.

    Whether you’re going to be susceptible to variants has very little to do with whether or not you have antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, because antibodies are not your primary defense against viruses, T cells are. What this means then, is that getting booster shots for different variants is not going to help, because these shots do not strengthen your T cell immunity.

    Of course, by pushing fear of variants, vaccine makers ensure a steady supply of people willing to participate as guinea pigs in their for-profit business scheme. Pfizer plans to ask for EUA authorization for a third COVID booster shot in August 2021.

    Vaccinologist Dr. Geert Vanden Bosche, published an open letter to the corrupt WHO, March 6, 2021, in which he warned that implementing a global mass vaccination campaign during the height of the pandemic could create an “uncontrollable monster” where evolutionary pressure will force the emergence of new and potentially more dangerous mutations.

    Oh….and by the way….direct from CDC below. Basically it means the near-universally used PCR tests may not be able to differentiate between COVID-19 and common influenza viruses. So this whole mess of “cases” since last year has been falsely driving the flawed narrative.

    “After December 31, 2021, CDC will withdraw the request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel, the assay first introduced in February 2020 for detection of SARS-CoV-2 only. CDC is providing this advance notice for clinical laboratories to have adequate time to select and implement one of the many FDA-authorized alternatives.

  13. thank god the previous administration stopped flights from China, imagine the numbers if they hadn’t done that.

    whilst the Chinese stopped flights from Wuhan to Beijing, and Shanghai, but let them fly out of China.

  14. Todd: As I have previously stated the biggest danger to our species is not a virus, it is human stupidity. Something you wholly qualify for with the whole “the original man-made virus” conspiracy theory. Please, don’t get vaccinated and succumb to natural selection….sparing the rest of us having to deal with you or your offspring in future. We can only hope that natural selection catches up with you and those like you in record numbers giving the human race a fighting chance at surviving the epidemic of stupidity currently steering us towards extinction.

  15. This white house has lost me as a voter! When the mid-term elections come I will be sending them packing! I’m in Italy now and can and have been getting free testing every 3 days. Crazy joe clearly don’t have a handle on anything anymore. I voted for him and will pass in the future if we can visit europe why they cant with all the testing going on!

  16. Hard to figure out just what would make the politicians and bureaucrats give up the power that they gleefully hold on us. I agree that the virus represents natural selection … just read your history.

  17. As for Gary ‘whining’ about this or that situation, I think readers maybe don’t understand what they’re reading. I see VFTW as an outlet for news that affects travel. He’s reporting it; read it or don’t but criticizing this blog is kinda dumb.

  18. Sorry to disappoint you Ryan but I already had Covid back in February 2020. Nothing more than a bad cold for a few weeks, most likely suppressed by my healthy life style and supplements we knew to take starting in January of that year. We had advance knowledge this was coming in early December 2019. These days I’m armed with a host of other remedies when the next more deadly wave is released.

    I hope you survive because people like you serve an extremely useful purpose. Stay well. Take your booster and flu shot this September. Thank you for all you do.

  19. Todd, As you initially said, viruses mutate all the time. They don’t know if they are in a vaccinated person and have to mutate. A mutation which has better overall transmission will become dominant. Unvaccinated people provide a more fertile place to provide mutations, as there are more infections and more opportunities to mutate there. Many of these mutations are failures, and don’t propagate further. However, if a mutation is better able to infect in a vaccinated person and they can spread it, it has a better chance of becoming dominant. If more people were vaccinated, there would be fewer people getting infected, and fewer opportunities for mutations. Unfortunately, it doesn’t much matter what the US does, as there is enough international emergency travel to spread Covid, just look at the Olympics. A mutation in Indonesia will be just as likely to make it to the US, whether we have travel bans or not. Travel bans just slow the inevitable. Exponential growth starts slow, until it is finally noticable and too late to contain.

    If we really wanted to help the world, we would send more vaccines to the places which want them before we send lots of travelers who may or may not be incubating a case of Covid. The real target is to reduce hospitalizations and deaths. Covid is unlikely to every go away, but we might be able to turn it into the measles, which kills about 1/1000 of the people it infects, but is rare because of vaccination rates of almost 95% and an effectiveness of 97% with two MMR doses.

  20. Biden is not running this country. He is just a puppet. His half-empty town hall was sad to see just how much he has deteriorated.

  21. @Ryan Waldron — bravo! What I’ve been saying for months.
    @Samuel — me thinks you’ve been brain warped by OAN & Newsmax.

  22. Sorry John but I totally disagree. And, many many silenced doctors, scientists and experts throughout the world disagree with you as well but the contrarian viewpoint is not allowed to speak on mainstream media.

    Don’t even get me started on measles…..

    I have to get back to work….

  23. @Gary:The U.S. has also continued to ban travelers who’ve been in China, Iran, the European Schengen area, U.K. and Ireland, Brazil, South Africa or India in the prior 14 days.

    Hate to break it to you, but Ireland is IN the EU.

  24. So it’s okay to accept passengers from Mississippi or Alabama (1/3 vaccinated) but not from UK or Israel. That’s following the science.

  25. Wow !! I sure hope I don’t have to fly with or be anywhere around the nut cases who are politicizing the awful circumstances this country has found itself in with this pandemic. I agree with Ryan- don’t get vaccinated if you believe all the lies being spread and hopefully the gene pool will become cleaner.

  26. The epitome of hypocrisy!! While this stays in place, the “beloved” left wing morons now running the Country allow cart blanch to all the thousands of illegal, disease carrying and criminals who can afford to pay the cartels Meanwhile, our long suffering and totally disenfranchised good neighbors from Cuba are denied relief and entry after 50 year’s of socialistic oppression. An absolute travesty!

  27. Yes @Alan, Ireland is in the EU, but it isn’t in the Schengen area. Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway are not in the EU, but they are all in the Schengen area. Gary made no mention of the EU.

  28. Rozellvm-I agree with you but how did u miss Joe’s dementia while he was campaigning?
    Just come in thru Calif or Texas or Arizona -illegally and no covid test or vaccination needed!!

  29. A recent study published by King’s College in London, which operates the ZOE COVID Study app to monitor COVID infection and vaccination rates, found that, as of July 15, 2021, there was an average of 15,537 new daily symptomatic cases COVID-19 among partly or fully vaccinated people in the United Kingdom—an increase of 40 percent from the previous week’s total of 11,084 new cases.

    On July 17, the U.K.’s Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced he had tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus despite having received two doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University’s experimental AZD1222 COVID vaccine on Mar. 17 and May 16.

    In Israel, about 60 percent of the country’s population of 9.3 million has received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. About 85 percent of adults in Israel have been vaccinated. Yet most of the new coronavirus infections are occurring in vaccinated people.

    Infections in Chile, Seychelles and Mongolia mostly in vaccinated people.

    French virologist and Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier, MD in May 2021 said in an interview with Pierre Barnérias of Hold-Up Media that he believes the mass vaccination programs for COVID may actually be causing SARS-CoV-2 mutations like the Delta variant and, thus, prolonging the pandemic.

    Barbara Loe Fisher has said that…

    “Every life form wants to live, wants to survive. Universal principle. And viruses and bacteria are no exception. And when you put a pressure on a virus or bacteria that’s circulating, with the use of a vaccine that contains a lab-altered form of that virus or bacteria, it doesn’t seem that it would be illogical to understand that that organism is going to fight to survive, it’s going to find a way to adapt in order to survive.”

  30. Luc Montagnier is 88 years old. I can’t say if he’s competent any more or not, but there have been a number of people questioning the competency of our current and previous presidents who are younger. He may have be great working on HIV, but his statements on Covid have not been his best work. RNA has no intelligence to “fight”. Mutations are random. Some mutations help a new strain to be dominant in it’s environment. And yes, the vaccinated are part of that environment. So are the people who have had Covid. But the virus has no way to selectively adapt itself. A mutated virus has to take over another cell and have that cell replicate it, then become airborne. It will not be the predominant strain initially, since it’s unique, and it has to be more contagious (but not necessarily more deadly) to become the predominant strain. Being able to reproduce and spread from a vaccinated person would also be an advantage. Having a large pool of vaccinated people will give an advantage to a virus which can break through the vaccination, but the vaccination does not cause the mutation, nor is there any guarantee that there will ever be a mutation which can get past all of the vaccines. But, with a large pool of unvaccinated people, there are plenty of ways to replicate through them without needing a mutation which could replicate in a vaccinated person. But in a target poor environment, it’s hard for the virus to find a new home and have the opportunity to mutate. The key problem with Luc Montagnier’s statement is that there is no guarantee that any mutation will ever be generated which can reliably cause high viral loads through a random process. Evolution doesn’t work through central planning, but through a vicious cycle of competing for resources such as targets to replicate in.

    But, back on point, it’s hard to say whether it’s better for someone to have a tourist job with the possibility of dieing because their country doesn’t have enough vaccine, or to starve because there are no tourists to show earning a paycheck in a country with few safety nets.

  31. Oh….be careful what you wish for. Biden’s own former white house physician is throwing him under for being too senile to hold office. Not sure what is worse, deaf ole Joe bumbling his way through or the affirmative action vice president getting a promotion to being in charge.

  32. Tim, Trump didn’t have a whole lot of choice in closing China. If you remember, every pilots union refused to fly to China. United was nice enough to give his administration the heads up that they weren’t going to fly to China that day, to give them time to officially close flights. American and Delta had already cancelled their flights. Trump only announced a fait accompli. It did keep the Chinese carriers out, but there was no way flights would have been operated only by Chinese airlines

  33. 100% of unvaccinated non-US citizens can buy a “negative Covid test” overseas and enter the US.

    But vaccinated US citizens with the US CDC card are banned from returning home, because Biden hates vaccines, the CDC, and US citizens.

    My wife is in Guatemala, a country that accepted her US CDC card to enter. The Guatemalan airport has an unlicensed Covid testing facility that guarantees 100% negative Covid tests, yet brain dead Biden and his brain dead minions mindlessly trust non-US Covid tests.

  34. Stop whining. Please. You want to come to America? Enroll Hunter Biden as your business partner, pay his hefty fee (cut to “the big guy” included) and no problemo, come visit when you want.

    And if you’re not into bribing him outright, you can send him a selfie of you holding one of his $500k pieces of “art” he’s been hawking lately.

    Again, stop whining. Trump is out and our guys are finally cleaning house.

  35. @Terry – Alabama and Mississippi are part of the United States. The UK and Israel aren’t. If the feds tried to stop interstate travel within the US, there would be a huge political mess, and probably wouldn’t even be legal.

  36. @Todd The info you presented is utter bullshit. All the major variants occurred long before vaccinations. While there are 100s more variants, that have been occurring regularly since the beginning of the pandemic. That is the pattern of corona viruses. The common cold is a corona virus. Which is why, humans constantly catch them, because they are constantly mutating. There is no evidence that vaccinations cause the variants. Viruses seek the path of least resistance, the unvaccinated. There has been evidence that immuno-compromised individuals have been vectors for variants. People who cannot be vaccinated. But definitely not the other way around.

    >>The original variant (D614G) first identified in China. January 2020
    >>Alpha (B.1.1.7), first identified in the UK but which has spread to more than 50 countries and appears to be mutating again. September 2020
    >>Beta (B.1.351), first identified in South Africa but which has been detected in at least 20 other countries, including the UK. October 2020.
    >>Delta (B.1.617.2) first identified in India, now represents 90% cases in the UK and 60% cases in the USA. October 2020
    >>Gamma (P.1), first identified in Brazil but which has spread to more than 10 other countries, including the UK. July 2020
    >>Lambda (C.37) first identified in Peru, but mostly affects S. American countries with relatively few cases in the US. August 2020
    >>Iota variant (B.1.526) first identified in NYC, but is not the dominant variant in the US. March 2021
    >>‘Eeek’ mutation (E484K) has been occurring with other variants. March 2020
    >>Denmark/California mutation (L452R) appeared first in Denmark and then California. March 2020

    Typical of the “View from the Wing” which has become a mostly political blog and not a source of miles and points information. Gary, your blog is now crap!

  37. @John – At this point in your life John, you have been too contaminated and the ONLY way your mind changes is when your authority figures slap you in the face with it.

    As I said the other day, masks will be coming back, which today they have. Next, prepare for another lock down before end of year in specific economies.

  38. JohnB: I agree that Todd is full of it the world would be better if a variant came along that spread rapidly amongst those who are full of it and took the likes of him out. On the other hand, if all you are looking for is someone else to pay your way into the front of the plane, feel free to piss off. The discussions that you take part in and then rail against because they don’t help you make air travel more expensive for everyone else so you can get something for free are far more important. There, discussion about your prescious miles, are you happy now?

  39. @Ryan @John and some others here – I don’t recall having ever wished any of you dead based on comments with different views. So sad to see how humans behave. Many de-evolving.

    America is quickly moving from freedom to tyranny. Be careful what you wish for.

  40. This is exactly the goal of the Trusted News Initiative. To flood mainstream with one narrative, repeat, repeat, repeat, scare, scare and scare until finally we erupt into civil war. That’s coming next if we don’t wake up soon and allow for debate of contrarian views from ALL expert, professional, scientific sources.

  41. @Ryan Waldron

    I am not seeking for anyone to pay my way to the front of the plane. I don’t travel much at all, as I am retired. I did not fly for work, so I wasn’t travelling on other peoples’ money either. I earn the majority of miles/points thru credit card sign up bonuses. You are missing the point. The hobby is about leveraging miles/points for free/low cost travel. Not making travel more expensive in general. That is the info I seek, not all this click bait, that Gary constantly posts.

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