The White House decreed on Monday, January 18, that the entry bans on most of the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Brazil would end as early as January 26, just six days after Mr. Biden takes office, citing the decision last week by the administration to require international travelers to present either the results of a negative recent coronavirus test or evidence that they had already recovered from the disease. President-elect Biden rejected the move, which means the curbs on incoming travel from these regions, which have been in place since March 2020, will remain in place after the inauguration. “On the advice of our medical team, the administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26,” tweeted Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the Biden administration, immediately after President Trump’s decree was issued. “In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
The recent decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to require a negative COVID-19 test for travelers arriving from other countries was reported not to be directly linked to the travel ban, but it was seen as a way to impose safety restrictions that would allow for a resumption of travel. Martin Centron, the CDC’s director of the division of global migration and quarantine, said last week that “[p]rotecting the global public’s health while minimizing the interference to travel and trade is essentially our goal.” The use of testing – both before travel and upon arrival – to facilitate travel has been adopted by jurisdictions across a number of regions in the new year.
The debate by the two administrations arises as the United States has reported more than 24 million cases of coronavirus, and the deaths of nearly 400,000 Americans infected with the disease. It also comes amid a struggle across nations with a new, more contagious variant of the virus.
Mayer Brown will continue to monitor COVID-related travel restrictions on its C-19 Global Travel Navigator.