US to maintain travel restrictions due to delta variant

The United States will keep current international travel restrictions in place for the time being due to the delta variant and rising coronavirus cases domestically, the White House said Monday.

“We will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons. The more transmissible delta variant is spreading both here and around the world,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Health Care — FDA panel backs boosters for some, but not all White House to host global COVID-19 summit next week Overnight Defense & National Security: US-Australian sub deal causes rift with France MORE told reporters\ Monday.

“Driven by the delta variant, cases are rising here at home particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead,” she said. 

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“The CDC just advised Americans against travel to the United Kingdom this past Monday given the surge in cases. They will evaluate and make recommendations based on health data,” Psaki added, referring to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

The Biden administration last month formed working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to weigh when to lift international travel restrictions. The administration has not said when it plans to loosen restrictions on international travel but the decision to establish the working groups was seen as a step in that direction.

While European nations have relaxed restrictions on U.S. travelers who are vaccinated, the U.S. has thus far resisted lifting restrictions on travel from other countries.

Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security said it would extend the closure of the land borders with Canada and Mexico until at least Aug. 21. Canada’s government plans to open the border to fully vaccinated Americans beginning Aug. 9.

The move has frustrated lawmakers from northern U.S. border states who have been pressuring the administration to reopen travel to Canada.

Travel restrictions have been in place for more than a year. Former President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE moved to lift restrictions on Europe and Brazil in the waning days of his term, but President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE kept them in place once he took office. Biden also added restrictions on India amid a surge of COVID-19 infections there.

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The more transmissible delta variant has become the dominant strain in the United States. After declining considerably from the beginning of the year, COVID-19 cases have been on the rise again as vaccination rates have plateaued. The White House has been pleading with eligible Americans who have not yet gotten vaccinated to do so immediately, citing the threat of the delta variant.

Nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, according to data from the CDC.

Studies have shown that the vaccines are effective against the delta variant.

Vaccine hesitancy and resistance have emerged as growing challenges for the administration as officials look to get the country to herd immunity.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released last week found that of those who have not yet received a coronavirus vaccine, 81 percent responded that they were unlikely to get a vaccine.

The Biden administration last month formed working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to weigh when to lift international travel restrictions.

While European nations have relaxed restrictions on U.S. travelers who are vaccinated, the U.S. has thus far resisted lifting restrictions on travel from other countries.

Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security said it would extend the closure of the land borders with Canada and Mexico until at least Aug. 21. Canada’s government plans to open the border to fully vaccinated Americans beginning Aug. 9.

Travel restrictions have been in place for more than a year.

The more transmissible delta variant has become the dominant strain in the United States. After declining considerably from the beginning of the year, COVID-19 cases have been on the rise again as vaccination rates have plateaued. The White House has been pleading with eligible Americans who have not yet gotten vaccinated to do so immediately, citing the threat of the delta variant.

Nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine.