President Donald Trump and European Union officials are both contemplating extending the travel ban between the U.S. and Europe, according to a report by McClatchy Newspapers.
The restrictions were announced by Trump on March 11 to stem the spread of the global coronavirus pandemic. The ban was originally set to last 30 days but later became a decision that would remain in effect until Trump decided otherwise.
Now, it appears, the ban could last for months. Europe is the largest source of inbound travel for tourism and business to the United States after Canada and Mexico.
“It makes sense given the circumstances. I don’t think anyone expects them to ease anytime soon,” one Trump administration official told McClatchy. The administration has no plans to lift the restrictions in the near future, a second official said.
It isn’t just Trump, or a Trump decision, pushing the agenda. French President Emmanuel Macron has already discussed putting a freeze on international travel into Europe through September, especially with health officials now concerned about a second wave of the virus hitting later this fall and winter.
The current ban on travel from Europe into the U.S. includes 28 countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Italy and Germany. Behind border countries Canada and Mexico, Europe sends the most tourists to the United States annually.
The virus has claimed more than 50,000 people in the U.S., and more nearly 220,000 worldwide, and has devastated the travel industry to the point where air travel is down 90 percent compared to the same time period last year.
According to McClatchy, trade and travel organizations have reached out to the White House to discuss the matter.
“We have to be in a position to safely open up travel here at home first,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy at the U.S. Travel Association. “Obviously the international traveler is critical, and from an economic standpoint, it’s a huge benefit to the United States — when they come to the U.S., they spend more money and they stay longer. But we can’t put ourselves in a position where we open things up too quickly and then have to close things down.”
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