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President Joe Biden to reverse travel orders set by former Trump Administration

Updated: Jan 21, 2021  | Tags: Travel Restrictions, USA Visa Restrictions, COVID-19

In his last days in office, outgoing President Donald Trump lifted some of the COVID-19 related restrictions on incoming travel from the European Schengen area, the UK, Brazil, and Ireland, to come into effect on January 26th. Incoming President Biden has promised to reverse this decision.

Easing travel restrictions on Schengen, UK, Irish and Brazilian travelers

Trump issued an executive order on Monday, January 18th 2021, stating that he had received advice that it was now safe to lift restrictions from Schengen area countries, the UK, Ireland and Brazil, but to continue to restrict travel from China and Iran. He agreed with Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services, that travel could now safely resume while still protecting US citizens from the spread of coronavirus.

Joe Biden was inaugurated as President on January 20th and is not expected to ease the restrictions. His press secretary said that this was not the right time for travel restrictions to be lifted as the second wave of the pandemic was at its height, and new, more contagious variants of the virus were emerging. On the contrary, in an attempt to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, Biden's health and medical team are expected to further strengthen international travel restrictions.

Last week, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that a negative COVID-19 test would be required for anyone entering the US via an airport, a policy that should assist in the fight against the pandemic. Air travelers will need to be tested within three days before their flight to the US and must also provide either documentation of their results or a document proving that they have had, and recovered from, COVID-19.

Airlines in negotiations with the White House to ease travel restrictions

Last week's announcement of the testing program, together with former President Trump's lifting of travel restrictions, chimes with the interests of certain airlines that have been negotiating with the White House and the CDC. Airlines have been asking both Biden and Trump administrations to not only expand a testing program for inbound travelers but also to lift restrictions on travel.

The interest group Airlines for America, which includes United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines, had previously written to former Vice President Mike Pence to request the implementation of a worldwide testing program for inbound passengers to the US. If implemented, such a plan would allow restrictions on entering the US to be lifted for travelers from Brazil, the Schengen area, Ireland, and the UK.

New COVID-19 strands complicate strategies for easing travel restrictions

But last month, as a response to a new, potentially more infectious COVID-19 mutation that is thought to originate in the UK, the Center for Disease Control announced that travelers from the UK to the US must provide a negative COVID-19 test before travel. 72 cases of the new variant have already been recorded in 10 states, according to last week's CDC data.

Several countries affected by the policy change have recently implemented their own entry restrictions for US travelers. For example, US travelers seeking to enter the UK or Ireland must test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their departure. As well as a negative COVID-19 test, Brazil requires a Declaration of Traveler's Health. United States citizens are not permitted to enter Schengen Area countries, including France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, and Italy, although there are certain exemptions and special permissions.

President Biden's potential reversal of the easing of travel restrictions is set to come into effect along with changes to the COVID-19. Sweeping changes are expected to the way the vaccine program will be rolling out were expected to increase the daily vaccination numbers. They are to be implemented proposals by the Biden administration.

However, plans to release a reserve of second vaccine doses seem to be put on hold, as it appears that contrary to recent reports, these vaccine doses were distributed late last year.

Immigration Policies set to be revoked

Trump immigration policies to be reversed by President Biden during his first 100 days include:

  • The "Muslim travel ban," (Executive Order 13769) Trump's restrictions on travelers from Muslim majority countries.
  • Reuniting children with their parents after they had been separated when seeking asylum at the US - Mexico border.