U.S. industry groups, lawmakers press White House to lift travel restrictions

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Travelers go through general screening at a security checkpoint at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Washington, U.S. April 12, 2021. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

July 7, 2021

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A coalition of 24 industry organizations on Wednesday urged the White House to lift restrictions that bar much of the world from traveling to the United States but the Biden administration showed no signs of taking immediate action.

The groups led by U.S. Travel Association and representing airlines, casinos, hotels, airports, airplane manufacturers and others, urged the administration to ease entry restrictions by July 15 that were imposed last year during the pandemic, and to quickly lift entry restrictions on UK travelers.

“We have the knowledge and the tools we need to restart international travel safely, and it is past time that we use them,” U.S. Travel Chief Executive Roger Dow said.

Separately, 75 members of the U.S. House of Representatives called on Biden to reopen the U.S. border with Canada to non-essential travelers.

The lawmakers in a letter cited projections that if the restrictions are not lifted, the United States could “lose 1.1 million jobs and an additional $175 billion by the end of this year.” The White House did not immediately comment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has raised concerns about the Delta variant of COVID-19 in U.S. government meetings, sources said. Industry and U.S. officials told Reuters they do not expect the administration to lift restrictions soon.

The CDC wants airlines to implement international passenger contact tracing as part of any lifting of restrictions, sources told Reuters.

The administration has been holding separate working group calls with Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union typically every two weeks to discuss how to unwind the restrictions.

Airlines and others have pressed the administration to lift restrictions covering most non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in Britain, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.

The 75 lawmakers called for lifting restrictions that bar most UK travelers and to develop “a risk-based, data-driven roadmap to ease inbound entry restrictions.”

Some in congress have also called on the administration to lift requirements that travelers wear masks in airports, subway stations and on airplanes and trains but is not currently considering lifting those requirements, officials told Reuters.

The Transportation Security Administration in April extended the face mask requirement in transit through Sept. 13.

Last month, the administration extended restrictions barring non-essential travel at Mexican and Canada land borders until July 21.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio)





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