Travel bosses on both sides of the Atlantic are urging Joe Biden and Boris Johnson to lift their ‘overly cautious’ ban on open travel between the UK and US at the G7 next week.
Since March 2020, travel between the two countries has been mostly banned.
Americans can go to the UK now but they must quarantine for 10 days on arrival and take multiple negative COVID tests – for more than $200 – even if they’re vaccinated.
British people cannot come into the US, unless they have special circumstances that exempts them from the ban.
The ongoing ban has been slammed as ‘stuck in time’ and ‘outdated’ when considering the fact that both countries have now vaccinated 41 percent of their populations.
COVID cases in the UK are rising but the number of people being hospitalized with the virus is not and Boris Johnson has said there is no reason the June 21 planned day of freedom can’t go ahead.
On Monday, the bosses of British airlines BA and Virgin joined executives from London’s Heathrow Airport at a press conference to urge Biden and Boris to lift the ban.
Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss said travelers should be able to enter the UK from the US without needing to quarantine.
Travel bosses on both sides of the Atlantic are urging Joe Biden and Boris Johnson to lift their ‘overly cautious’ ban on open travel between the UK and US at the G7 next week
41 percent of Britain have been vaccinated now and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country is on course to reopen fully on June 21
Some 41 percent of the US population has been fully vaccinated and half have had their first dose
‘There is no reason for the US to be absent from the UK green list. This overly cautious approach fails to reap the benefits of the successful vaccination programs in both the UK and the US.’
‘While transatlantic links with the US are restricted, it’s costing UK economy £23 million each day. We urge Prime Minister Johnson and President Biden to lead the way in opening the skies, making it a top priority at the G7 summit.
‘Customers, families and businesses need to book and travel with confidence. After 15 months of restrictions, the time to act is now.’
Sean Doyle, chairman and chief executive of British Airways, called on the men to ‘look to the science and base their judgments on a proper risk analysis’.
He said: ‘In the UK this means making the traffic light system fit for purpose, including a pathway to restriction-free travel for vaccinated travelers, and getting rid of complexity surrounding amber list countries, eliminating quarantine and reducing the number of tests passengers are required to take.’
People from any other country can fly to the US, so long as they have a valid visa and a negative COVID-19 test, and Americans can also enter the US from anywhere in the world so long as they also test negative. That includes traveling from countries like some in Africa, where the vaccine roll-out is barely off the ground, and Nepal, where a frightening new variant has been detected
Ministers are not adding any countries to its so-called ‘green list’, dashing hopes that places such as Malta, Jamaica and Grenada could be added to the roster thanks to easing coronavirus rates
Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said: ‘Connectivity between the UK and the US is one of the great engines of the global economy.
‘The scientific data shows transatlantic travel and trade can be reopened safely, and every day that policymakers delay puts jobs, livelihoods and the economic chances of hardworking folks across our countries at risk unnecessarily.
‘We cannot continue to keep locked up indefinitely.’
Their calls echo those of American travel bosses who have been begging Biden to lift the ban for months.
Former Assistant Homeland Secretary C. Stewart Verdery Jr. is among those who says the ongoing ban is not only divorced from data, but that it is damaging the US economic recovery from COVID. Verdery Jr. worked in Homeland Security from 2003 and 2005. He was among officials who came up with new travel rules to adapt to the post 9/11 world.
In an interview with DailyMail.com on Thursday, he described how Biden’s policy is outdated, and why the reasons to excuse it before no longer stand.
‘I accept that they inherited a tricky situation. They inherited policies that were in place but there hasn’t been a re-look at them in light of the fact those countries have been leaders on vaccinations.
BA Ceo Sean Doyle, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye and Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss appeared at a press conference on Monday to call for the ban to be lifted
‘Especially among the traveling public – the chances of the average person who’s going to be traveling, being vaccinated, is 90 percent. On top of that you have the testing requirement.
‘You’ve got this odd situation where you van fly into the US from half the world regardless of their conditions or vaccine rollouts, then the other half of the world that are doing well, they’re not taking into consideration. It’s like they’re stuck in time.’
The ban was first implemented by Trump last March, at the very beginning of the crisis.
Shortly before he left office, Trump announced that he was lifting the ban. Biden reinstated it within a day or two of taking office.
Verdery said by doing so, he backed himself into a corner that now the administration is struggling to get out of.
‘Once they revoked Trump undoing it, they put themselves in a box. And unless there was a bulletproof plan that all of the doctors and advisers agreed on, they weren’t going to press ahead with it.
‘They backed themselves into a corner. I thought that corner might last a month or two, but not five,’ he said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be hopeful that Biden will reopen the border this summer and that they can discuss a UK/US travel corridor at the G7 from June 11 until June 13.
The White House is stonewalling journalists who ask about it and behind the scenes, experts say the Biden administration is hesitant to allow travel from one of the banned countries without allowing it to resume from all of them including India – where COVID-19 is spiraling out of control.
‘The government is trying to solve the whole problem, all of the challenges at once, recognizing variants as an issue.
‘Rather than starting with what they can, it seems like they want to conquer the whole issue and we think that from an economic standpoint, that will continue to damage the US economy.
‘We know the science tells us that we can safely reopen with the UK. The process is moving forward and there are ongoing conversations but they are just not there yet.
‘We plan to continue to press on them that we can’t wait any more,’ Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy at the U.S. Travel Association, told DailyMail.com.
Verdery said that plan is flawed and the administration should go country by country.
‘We ought to be doing a country by country analysis on the health front just like we do on immigration and terrorism. I was in Homeland Security after 9/11…we had to rebuild all of our policies and look for the needle in the haystack – it took a while but our work with the Brits was at the forefront of that.
‘There is no reason to hold the British travel corridor hostage to facts on the ground in India.
‘And this isn’t irreversible – if a country starts back-sliding, it can be changed again.’