Published: Jun 24, 2021, Updated: Jun 24, 2021
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US chief medical adviser, said in an interview with ITV News that there was a fair chance that people would be able to travel between the United States and the UK with fewer restrictions by the end of summer.
However, while he hoped that free travel between the two countries would soon resume, he could not put an exact date on this development. Dr. Fauci pointed out that it was impossible to predict because infection rates could change and new variants could arise.
Dr. Fauci considered that thanks to the UK government's prudent decision to delay "Freedom Day," June 21, the country could find itself in a favorable position by September. Boris Johnson had decided to pull back from a complete relaxation of restrictions to allow more people to be vaccinated and for more to receive a second jab. On Thursday, June 24th, the UK government also signaled it would allow fully vaccinated British citizens to travel to the United States and return without the need to quarantine.
Dr. Fauci, an expert on infectious diseases, also warned of the need for wealthier countries to join forces and help poorer nations to vaccinate their people. The sees this as the best way to prevent new variants from emerging, making their way to the United States and the UK, and setting back the ending of travel restrictions yet again.
PM Boris Johnson is confident about ending restrictions on July 19, but Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister, has said that Scotland's easing of lockdown restrictions looks set to be delayed from June 28.
Dr. Fauci said that we should always take Covid variants seriously because there is always uncertainty about how effective existing vaccines are to protect us against them. He felt that it was fortunate that the Alpha variant (formerly called the Kent variant because that is the part of the UK where it originated) and the Delta variant (which first arose in India) were sensitive to the vaccines currently being administered. Now, he aims to get as many people as possible vaccinated across the nation, some states having succeeded in the rollout of vaccines better than others. For example, in New York, more than 70% of adults have now received at least their first dose, so the state will be able to relax restrictions and open up sooner than some southern states where the greater part of the population have yet to receive a vaccine.
The US has now passed the milestone of 600,000 deaths from Covid. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than 33 million cases, with nearly 8000 new cases recorded on a single day last week. Almost 65% of adults have now been given at least one dose of a vaccine. New York and California have now lifted most restrictions and reopened for the summer.
When asked whether Covid could be controlled by the end of summer 2022, Dr. Fauci said that he thought that would probably be the case in wealthier countries such as the US, the UK, and the countries of the EU. But it would depend wholly on how successful and widespread the vaccination program was around the world.
The EU's list for approved travel has been expanded and now includes the United States, Serbia, Taiwan, Lebanon, and North Macedonia. It will now be possible to travel to Europe from the US more freely, following an agreement on adding these countries to the approved list.
This means that governments of EU countries should gradually relax restrictions and allow non-essential travel from these additional countries. But they can still implement further conditions on travelers, including quarantine and PCR tests.
In May, the European Commission said that it was planning to add to the approved list for travel to non-EU countries. This would allow citizens of countries with low rates of Covid to travel to Europe whether or not they were vaccinated. The prevalence of Covid variants and vaccination rates also determine whether a country is added to the list.
Countries already approved include:
Hong Kong and Macao are also on the approved travel list.
Greece, France, and some other EU countries have already relaxed restrictions for travelers from the US. From July 1, the EU hopes to give summer travel a boost with certificates to verify vaccinations, Covid immunity, and negative tests that will be valid across the EU.