Will The U.S. Ban Europeans From Coming Here Until Thanksgiving?

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 and vaccinated Americans are now welcomed into Canada. And 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.

There are rumors that the U.S. could extend these policies until at least Thanskgiving while others have suggested the U.S. might ease restrictions after Labor Day.

U.S. travel restrictions are truly strange.

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

  • Unvaccinated Americans can travel to Mexico and return across land borders without being tested for the virus, while vaccinated Europeans who test negative for Covid-19 cannot enter.

  • There are no similar bans or vaccination requirements, for travelers coming from Russia or Indonesia.

  • We aren’t trying to ‘contain’ the virus, or even the Delta variant, it is already here. So what, exactly, is this supposed to accomplish?

U.S. travel restrictions are for show. There’s a huge status quo bias in policy. Lifting restrictions looks ‘soft on Covid’ which is galling from an administration that was supposed to be ‘guided by science’ yet has been unwilling to reverse the policies put in place by the previous administration. These restrictions have 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. In Israel, where effectiveness has ostensibly waned and they’ve faced high levels of per capita infection, here’s what recent protection against severe disease looks like by age cohort:

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.

And while it’s possible for someone that’s been vaccinated to spread the virus, someone vaccinated is less likely to get infected and when they’re infected it’s generally for a shorter period of time. So they’re less likely to spread. And while they may show similar viral loads as the unvaccinated on PCR tests, they doesn’t mean they are shedding similar amounts of infectious virus.

Extending mask mandates into 2022 and bans on European visitors at least until Thanksgiving is hardly science-based since we do not even know what the pandemic will look like at those future points. It’s policy driven by political fear, and this has to stop.

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. This travel ban seems like a futile attempt to try and stave off the Fox News criticism machine after the first person catches the ‘rona from someone coming over from Europe. Right now that vacuum is currently being filled with cries of the crisis really being fueled by caravans of infected undocumented streaming across the border. States that flaunt public health advice, like Texas, have nothing to do with the problem because that’s ‘freedom’ — freedom to clog the hospitals, sicken the vulnerable, and to wear a ventilator instead of a mask.

  2. How about requiring vaccination to enter the country? These total bans are ridiculous, childish and is incredible/illegal governmental over-reach. I am totally disgusted with the federal government, incompetent and abusive. Someone help us!

  3. Meanwhile, Biden has kept the southern border wide open for anyone to walk in. Thousands of un-tested people continue to flood into the country.

  4. Trying to stop COVID at Air Ports of Entry, especially when US transmission rates are extraordinarily high, is essentially like closing the barn door after the horse got away. Covid is highly endemic to the US with hundreds of thousands of cases per day. Nipping it at border has been an exercise in futility for 18 months already.

  5. Please stop conflating your perspective on Southern Border crossings. Very little has changed since little dick Trump made Mexico pay for his wall. Gary loves stirring up his Fox fans that agree with him. You want to close a border, close Florida. What a mess run by another idiot.

  6. @Ray. Calm down dude. The border discussion is very relevant to the ban on European travelers, the southern border is wide open while Canada and Europe are basically closed. Calling people ridiculous names shows your inability to rationally discuss.

  7. Thousands of unvetted people are being allowed across the southern border without being required to present negative COVID testing results, let alone being vaccinated. That isn’t hyperbole, that’s the truth. Yet, the same Alzheimer’s sufferer who brought you the great Afghanistan pullout is proposing to ban Europeans – many of whom are vaccinated?

    Perhaps it’s because his puppetmasters won’t be giving Europeans the fast track to citizenship so they can vote Socialist in 2024 as the astroturf “caravans’ of gang members from Tegucigalpa will do. It’s all politics and it’s all phony crap.

  8. Thank god Joe Biden is the President and not Gary. Joe Biden understands and follows the science. Europeans have shown us over the last 1.5 years that are unable to behave responsibly. It is simply not safe to let them into the US right now. Once Joe Biden destroys this virus in the next several years we can all go back to living, and travelling, normally again.

  9. I feel bad for @stogieguy having to go thru 4 years of sane politics. Must be tough after living through the hell the world went through for the previous 4.

    My take on this is Biden is protecting us Europeans from Floridians.

  10. Dems should consider applying the 25h Amendment before it is too late , have Biden removed and install Kamala. Otherwise, they can forget the 2022 midterm elections.

  11. Wait until Europe bans Americans if we don’t open up, I think things would change pretty quickly.

  12. @Ray: The last 4 years were great, this term is already a total sh!t show and is promising to go downhill from here. The only enjoyment I get from it is watching leftists try to defend utter stupidity by chanting Trump’s name – as if that will fix what Biden and company are screwing up.

  13. @Joe Chivas
    The EU now has higher vaccination rates that the US (and better covid rates), yet my nephew who is vaccinated can not enter the US with a negative test. Yet unvaccinated America s can go to Mexico and return (with a Mexican negative test acquired quickly from a hotel referral which are almost all negative). Anyone from Africa can enter the US unvaccinated or Indonesia as per Gary’s example (even though they are on shutdown) unvaccinated and with a local test (that only the airline rep looks at. So if the 35 countries we are banning for non essential travel the 26 EU countries are now better than us on covid, report each county and have standards each week. So we bar mostly only barring vaccinated Europeans and permitting unvaccinated from most of the rest of the world? In what science based system does that make sense?

  14. They aren’t guided by science at all. They are guided by politics just like the previous administration. These travel bans are ludicrous on the face of it, and to me reduce the credibility of everything else the government says. I shouldn’t go some place? Well it’s the same bureaucrats saying that who say we can’t let in vaccinated Canadians or Europeans, so why should I take their warnings seriously?

  15. These Covid-fueled Mexicans keep streaming right over the border and directly into Florida! It’s the only explanation as to how the cases are so high there.

  16. @UA
    There are hundreds of millions of cases of common cold virus every year too….and nobody cares. The only metric that really matters are deaths. If people aren’t dying then who cares how many cases there are. If people are too dumb to get vaccinated then who cares about them too?

  17. It’s simple enough: Only permit fully vaccinated people to enter or fly within the USA. Sure, there’ll be hell to pay if the US doesn’t permit say the Sinovac vaccine because it’s not effective enough but no system is perfect. Once we have a system then we can try to work on ongoing improvements.

    @UA-NYC – DeSantis must believe that it’s Voodoo that enables the Mexican Covid hordes to magically transport themselves to Florida without being noticed or caught.

    @CHRIS – The only reason to care is because the unvaccinated are causing the rest of us to have to wear masks, distance, and take other measures despite us having done the right thing. If the repercussions only fell on the adult unvaccinated, I’d say that they are getting what they deserve and if they get hospitalized with Covid their insurance should decline to cover them because they chose to put themselves at risk. Unfortunately, their actions are hosing us and I take issue with that.

  18. @ Christian, what is the connect between DeSantis, Mexicans and Florida? I realize DeSantis went to the border but never heard him blame Mexicans for Florida’s COVID cases directly. There certainly could be some indirect responsibility.

    Agree on the unvaccinated irresponsible ppl getting sick and being held accountable for their actions. This administration has ignored that issue, they (in collusion with the media) rather blame vaccinated people for not wearing a mask, absolutely no sense at all. But I believe we have 3 1/2 more years of lack of accountability and severe mental incompetence to look forward to.

    May God help us all.

  19. @ Joe Chivas

    Let me get this straight. Joe Biden is smart to keep Europeans out but allows a flood of illegals to come in through Mexico daily. Americans have been flying to Mexico and Dominican Republic since March without a hint of restrictions for holidays and returning back to US

    I guess only white europeans are the problem

  20. @Mike – DeSantis blames illegal immigrants for the giant Covid outbreak in Florida. Since the only sizeable group of illegal immigrants are crossing from Mexico, that makes them the scapegoats. What other illegal immigrants could he be reasonably be referring to? I’m not going to go far into how wildly improbable it is that a sizeable number of illegal Mexican immigrants would decide to hitchhike or whatever en masse to travel a thousand miles simply to be in Florida. There are closer opportunities in Texas, California, and Arizona.

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