Europe

Joe Biden plots ‘serious snub to old ally’ as Brits blocked from quarantine-free US travel

Travel: Simon Calder says new quarantine rules ‘ludicrous’

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Americans on both sides of the pond welcomed the UK’s announcement on Wednesday that anyone vaccinated in the US will not need to self-isolate after arriving from an amber list country. But hopes of the US President returning the favour have been dashed, according to reports.

The chances of a two-way corridor between the two nations opening is slim due to a combination of the rise in the Delta variant in the UK, the complexities of the US political system and uncertainty surrounding the status of AstraZeneca’s Covid jab, according to The Telegraph, which described the move as a “serious snub to an old ally”.

The Biden administration is said to be wary of relaxing rules for Britons wishing to visit the States in the coming months.

Sources told the newspaper that Boris Johnson’s Government has been working for months to figure out a way for the NHS to acknowledge vaccines given to people overseas.

This is aimed at paving the way for quarantine-free travel for foreigners as ministers seek to reopen the economy.

On source said it was “frustrating” to see the Americans dragging their heels on rolling out a similar relaxation of rules for Britons.

Referring to Britain’s high rate of vaccination, the insider said: “We were working off travel restrictions set right at the beginning of the pandemic, with no acknowledgement that the situation had changed.

“It’s just a little frustrating that our counterparts haven’t moved at the same pace.”

The US is unlikely to allow vaccinated Britons into the country without the need to quarantine them anytime soon.

One issue is the fact that the AstraZeneca jab has not yet been given approval in the States.

The vaccine has been green-lighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

But the pharmaceutical company has not applied for the licence from the US Food and Drug Administration, the UK’s transport secretary Grant Shapps said.

Following the government’s announcement, demand for flights from the US to the UK surged.

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Virgin Atlantic said it received more than three times as many bookings for flights from New York to London compared with a week earlier, while total bookings across all its US to UK routes more than doubled.

The time period analysed is from when the new policy was announced on Wednesday afternoon until 9am this morning, and the same period last week.

From 4am on Monday, fully vaccinated travellers from the US, the EU and a handful of other European countries will no longer need to self-isolate for 10 days when entering Britain.

Virgin Atlantic chief commercial officer Juha Jarvinen said: “We know there’s pent-up demand to travel and our surge in bookings for US-UK travel reflects this.

“The news that self-isolation for fully vaccinated US citizens arriving into the UK will be removed from August 2 has increased consumer confidence, allowing our customers to finally plan a much-needed reunion with family, friends and business colleagues.

“Flight bookings are up by more than 100 percent week-on-week, with bookings from New York to London increasing by nearly 250 percent, compared to the previous week.

“We’ve missed flying our US-based customers and we’re excited to welcome them back on board soon.”

He urged ministers to “go further” by moving the US to its green travel list, which would also exempt unvaccinated passengers from quarantine.

It is not possible for most European travellers, including those from the UK, to enter the US due to coronavirus fears.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention also advises Americans against travel to the UK.

In June he undertook his first overseas visit since being sworn in as America’s 46th president when he flew into Britain for the G7 summit in Cornwall.

He held a private meeting with the Prime Minister in which they discussed a wide range of issues including bilateral relations, Brexit and climate change.

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