Ryan Bourne

At last, Biden’s cruel travel ban is ending

An airport reunion (Photo: Getty)

For many Brits and Europeans with ties to America, human relationships have been put on hold for an insufferably long time during the Covid-19 crisis. Today, at last, that changed.

White House advisor Jeffrey Zients announced that anyone fully vaccinated from anywhere in the world will be able to enter the U.S. with a negative test result from November. To say this was a comfort to millions who felt trapped in or outside of the US seems to trivialise the consequences. Look at the Twitter hashtag #LoveIsNotTourism to see the real-world effects of enforced separation. 

Upon hearing the possibility of the ban’s lifting, I booked a UK trip for November, almost two years since my last visit. I will now be in Kent as my sister gives birth to her second child and my first nephew, while spending time with my 2-and-a-half year old niece. When I last saw her, she was nine months old.

Even as domestic restrictions eased, travel measures from spring 2020 were kept rigidly in place

The Biden administration’s crude bans on non-Americans entering the country from Britain and the EU were senselessly and stubbornly maintained. Even as domestic restrictions eased and vaccines were rolled out, travel measures first introduced in spring 2020 were kept rigidly in place.

As each month passed — 16, 17, 18 months — the pain of distance from loved ones gave way to anger and despair.

Sure, anyone — vaccinated or otherwise — could fly in from Mexico, Malaysia, or other non-blacklisted countries. Americans? They could come and go as they please. But a desire to look tough on COVID, coupled with bureaucratic inertia, meant the bans on non-American visitors or returning foreign workers from Europe just rumbled on and on. The ruling Democratic Party showed little domestic interest in their removal.

Over time, for people like me, this was spirit-crushing.

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