On the same day as most UK restrictions eased, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Department urged Americans to avoid travelling to Britain.
The CDC has moved the UK into its highest ‘level 4’ advisory, as the COVID-19 Delta variant escalates, insisting even vaccinated people should avoid travelling there.
“Because of the current situation in the United Kingdom, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,” the CDC said in its update.
While the CDC said vaccinated citizens can only travel to the UK if it’s entirely necessary, the State Department said: “Do not travel to the United Kingdom due to COVID-19.”
On July 16, the UK announced over 45,000 new cases had been reported in one day, along with 49 deaths, which was the highest number of new daily infections since January.
The advice comes as the UK announced its long-awaited ease of most restrictions on Monday, including no limits on meetings, opening of all restaurants, and no mask-wearing.
Recommendations against travelling to amber list nations have been removed and under 18’s, and fully vaccinated adults don’t need to self-isolate after visiting those countries.
With over 68 per cent of UK adults fully vaccinated, the government believed it was the “right moment” to ease restrictions regardless of increased infections.
“If we don’t do it now, we’ve got to ask ourselves, when will we ever do it?” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a video posted on Twitter on Sunday.
“But we’ve got to do it cautiously. We’ve got to remember that this virus is sadly still out there. Cases are rising, we can see the extreme contagiousness of the Delta variant,” he said.
The US implemented a strict entry ban for non-US citizens from the EU and UK for most of last year, and it has severely impacted the tourism industry since.
Airlines have been urging President Joe Biden to lift international travel restrictions between the nations for months as more people get vaccinated.
Last month, the US, EU, UK, Canada and Mexico formed an expert working group establishing how travel can resume safely. But with cases growing and the new advisory rating announced, progress to increase trans-Atlantic travel is at risk.
England welcomes more US travelers than any other country yearly, with 4.78 million Americans visiting in 2019 and spending billions, according to Statista.
Compared to 2019, the UK travel demand plummeted 73 per cent, the “hardest hit in Europe”, according to British Airline Pilots Association general secretary, Brian Strutton.