The US government is working on plans to re-open the country to foreign visitors – but travel entry bans remain in place for now.

During a press event on 5 August, a spokesperson for President Joe Biden says the government is weighing options related to relaxing entry restrictions for non-citizens and non-residents, some of which have been in place for almost 18 months.

British Airways, American, Virgin aircraft at Heathrow Nov 18

Source: Heathrow Airport

“Given where we are today with the Delta Variant, we plan to maintain existing travel restrictions at this point,” press secretary Jen Psaki says. However, the administration is “working to develop a plan for a safe and consistent international travel policy”.

The government is striving to create “consistent, equitable, digestible guidance” as it considers what coronavirus-related requirements for foreign visitors could be feasible. 

“Right now it feels inconsistent, and it is,” she adds.

Mandatory vaccination for travellers arriving into the USA is “one of the considerations, but the process has not been concluded yet”, Psaki adds. “That is under strong consideration but it is under a policy process review right now.”

Earlier this week, reports emerged that the US government would announce new rules for vaccinated tourists imminently. US borders remain closed to travellers from Europe’s Schengen Area, the UK, China and several other countries.

Airline and travel industry groups have repeatedly appealed to the government to allow entry to fully-vaccinated tourists, in order to even partially rescue the summer holiday travel season and help the country’s airlines rebuild international networks.

Numerous European countries – including Spain, France, Iceland, Germany, Greece and Croatia – have opened their borders to vaccinated visitors from the USA, and Canada will relax entry rules for US citizens and permanent residents later this month. Passenger airlines have said that with every reopening they have seen notable increases in bookings to those countries.