The State Department, in coordination with the CDC, raised its Travel Advisory for the United Kingdom to “Do Not Travel” because of COVID-19 (Level IV).

Coincidentally, the Department’s move came on the same day Prime Minister Boris Johnson lifted most COVID-19-related restrictions in the United Kingdom (yet, excluding Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland). He made this move as the case numbers are rising because most adults in the United Kingdom are fully vaccinated.

Despite the United Kingdom lifting its restrictions, the European Union has opened its borders to individuals from the United States (with various restrictions). Further, Canada is about to open its borders to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Moreover, the White House reported that the United States will not be lifting travel restrictions due to the spread of the Delta variant. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that it is not clear how long the restrictions will last. As of July 23, 2021, the CDC announced that the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in the United States was up over 46 percent from the prior week.

Therefore, despite lobbying efforts aimed at increasing summer tourism from Europe, the Presidential Proclamations restricting travel to the United States due to COVID-19 are likely to remain in effect throughout the tourist season and beyond. The travel restrictions were imposed more than a year ago, in January 2020, when President Donald Trump instituted the ban on travel from China. Further bans were instituted in 2020 and 2021 on individuals travelling from Iran, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the 26-member countries of the Schengen Zone, Brazil, South Africa, and, more recently, India. To overcome these restrictions those who need to travel to the United States but are subject to the bans must either “camp-out” in a non-banned country (if they can enter such a country) for 14 days before attempting to enter the United States or they must apply for and receive a National Interest Exception (NIE) to the relevant ban. Eligibility for NIEs is set forth in a web of complex and changing guidance from the Department of State and Customs and Border Protection.

Employers all over the country are suffering due to the bans. Their key employees cannot travel back and forth from or to the United States for important business purposes. The highly skilled or temporary, seasonal workers they need to boost their businesses and the economy cannot be hired. This is compounded by the fact that most U.S. consulates abroad are extremely back-logged and understaffed due to COVID-19.

If you have questions about the travel bans, Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist you in developing travel strategies and applying for NIEs.