The Biden administration confirmed Monday that it will not yet lift any of its existing international travel restrictions, citing the risk of the Delta coronavirus variant. The decision means that non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents in many countries, including the United Kingdom and Schengen Area members, still can't enter the U.S., even as some of those nations have lifted their own bans on American travelers.
While it's true the Delta variant is fueling new COVID-19 waves across the world, the White House received some criticism for keeping its strategy intact for the time being, primarily because the U.S. is itself one of the countries dealing with outbreaks. In other words, as Bloomberg's Steve Matthews put it, critics are making the case that the "horse is way past the barn door."
FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver is among those left scratching their heads, arguing that the White House's move "makes no scientific sense," given that "there's no correlation between which countries are banned and how much COVID spread they have." People from Slovenia, for instance, can't travel to the U.S., while people from Malaysia can, even though the latter country has a worse per capita outbreak.
The U.S. Travel Association was reportedly caught off guard by the announcement and later released a statement calling on the White House to reverse course and begin reopening certain air corridors to allow for vaccinated international travelers to once again enter the U.S.