The White House is setting up working groups of experts to hash out how to roll back pandemic restrictions on travel between the U.S. and Mexico, Canada, the U.K. and European Union member states, a White House official confirmed to Forbes.
The working groups will include foreign representatives alongside experts from U.S. agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of State, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, the official told Forbes, who added travel decisions will ultimately be based on recommendations by public health medical experts.
While the U.S. is unlikely to lift its restrictions that bar most foreign travelers in the near future according to Reuters, which first reported the news, the creation of the panels is the latest shift away from the strict limits on international travel that have been in place for more than a year.
On Wednesday, the EU voted to approve digital Covid passes that will allow tourists to freely travel within the bloc by showing proof they have been vaccinated against coronavirus, recently tested negative or have coronavirus antibodies from a previous infection.
Chief executives of the six airlines that offer passenger flights between the U.S. and the U.K. publicly called on U.S. President Joe Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson Monday to come to an agreement on reinstating air travel between the countries this week at the Group of 7 Summit in Cornwall, England.
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday his government is working on gradually reopening to international visitors who have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
The Biden administration “heard very clearly the desire of our friends in Europe and the U.K. to be able to reopen travel across the Atlantic Ocean, and we want to see that happen,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said, according to Bloomberg. “But we have to follow the science, and we have to follow the guidance of our public health professionals.”
The U.S. is dragging its feet in allowing foreign visitors to cross its borders compared to some countries. Nations in the European Union first began rolling back travel restrictions on Americans in May, and are slated to allow all U.S. travelers who can prove they’ve been vaccinated, tested negative for coronavirus or have antibodies next month. Mexico has some of the laxest travel restrictions in the world: It does not ask for proof of vaccination, a negative coronavirus test and does not enforce a quarantine period on international visitors who arrive by air.