Biden Rejects President Trump’s Plan to Lift UK, EU, Brazil Travel Ban

WILMINGTON, DE - OCTOBER 19: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden arrives at The Queen theater on October 19, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. According to the campaign, Biden is recording an interview with CBS 60 Minutes that will air Sunday evening. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A spokeswoman for President-elect Joe Biden said that the incoming administration will not lift the travel ban on the UK, Europe, and Brazil after President Trump signed an order to end the travel restrictions.

On Monday, President Trump signed an order that would lift travel restrictions as of January 26th, six days after Biden is set to take control of the White House.

Shortly after it was announced, Jen Psaki, a spokesman for Mr Biden — who is due to be inaugurated on Wednesday — said on social media that the Biden administration would rescind the order.

“On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26,” Ms Psaki, 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.

“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” the Biden spokeswoman concluded.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) mandated that most foreign travellers to the United States present a negative test for the Chinese coronavirus or proof that they have recovered from the virus as of January 26th.

In a statement released on Monday night, President Trump said that Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar advised him that coronavirus test requirements would be enough to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 from international travellers from the UK, the European Union’s Schengen Area, and Brazil.

The order specified that travellers from China and Iran would not be included in the travel exemptions, claiming that their respective government’s “responses to the pandemic, their lack of transparency, and their lack of cooperation with the United States thus far in combatting the pandemic, cast doubt on their cooperation in implementing CDC’s January 12, 2021, order.”

The attempt to lift the travel restrictions by President Trump comes amidst increasing pressure from American airline companies, who, alongside the travel industry as a whole, have been particularly impacted by national lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Airlines for America, a lobbying group representing the industry, called on the Trump administration to end the travel bans and replace them with mandatory coronavirus testing for international travellers in line with the recommendations from the CDC.

The day after President Trump’s initial travel ban from China and Iran in January of last year, then-candidate Biden criticised Trump’s actions as not in line with “science”, going on to claim the president had a “record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering.”

Public health experts have praised President Trump’s timely response in shutting down travel as a key element in slowing the spread of the virus in the United States.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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