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US to rely on ‘expert working groups’ to open borders

written by Isabella Richards | June 10, 2021
A file image of a American Airlines Boeing 737-800. (Rob Finlayson)
A file image of a American Airlines Boeing 737-800. (Rob Finlayson)

The US government has announced it is forming expert working groups with other nations to establish how travel can resume safely.

The countries included are Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the UK. It follows calls to begin opening borders again after 15 months of separation due to the pandemic, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcing earlier this week the reshuffle of numerous countries moving into the low-risk category.

“While we are not reopening travel today, we hope that these expert working groups will help us use our collective expertise to chart a path forward, with a goal of reopening international travel with our key partners when it is determined that it is safe to do so,” a White House official said.

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The comprised group will be led by the White House Covid Response team, the National Security Council, the CDC, and other agencies.

“Any decisions will be fully guided by the objective analysis and recommendations by public health and medical experts,” said the White House official on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, the CDC announced it would be moving 33 countries to the low-risk category that were originally high risk. These include Iceland, Israel and Singapore.

This updated travel advice from health officials will affect 120 countries, allowing a more free-moving travel flow, depending on their risk status.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky said the US travel restrictions implemented since last year are subject to conversation as vaccination rates rise and countries begin to ease restrictions.

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“These issues are complex, the science is evolving, the science is moving and we are following the science, each and every day, and our guidance is evolving as the science evolves,” said Walensky to CNBC. “We are looking at the data in real time as to how we should move forward with that.”

Recently, the chief executives of American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and JetBlue Airways joined together in a rare feat of collaboration to conduct a virtual press conference to encourage the UK and US governments to ease travel restrictions and re-start the US$9 billion trans-Atlantic travel market, as reported on the World of Aviation.

These airlines have praised this newest update as the aviation industry will be on track to recover from the COVID impact, according to Reuters.

“These working groups should act quickly to endorse a policy backed by science that will allow travelers who are fully vaccinated to travel to the US Quickly is the key – we believe the science is there,” they said.

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