President Joe Biden speaks during a briefing in Hillsborough Township, N.J., September 7, 2021. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters) And do it now.
Mr. President, tear down this travel ban.
Seriously, tear it down. Nix it. End it. Bring it to a close. Relegate it to history. Send it six feet under. Arrange its termination. Dispatch it. Dispose of it. Eliminate it. Fit it with concrete shoes and send it to the bottom of the ocean.
And do it now — effective now.
Since March of last year, the federal government has barred pretty much everyone who isn’t an American from visiting the United States. It has now been half a year since the COVID vaccines were made universally available, and still the U.S. persists in this policy. No, this isn’t because America is more science-y than other nations; it’s because America is more inert. In the last few months, Canada has re-opened its border with the United States; Britain has dropped its restrictions on travelers from the United States; and the European Union has removed its restrictions on travelers from the United States only to reimpose them after the U.S. refused to respond in kind. Among the free nations of the Western world, America has become an outlier, and is at risk of becoming a pariah. And for what?
There was a point at which draconian restrictions on travel made a certain sense. But, as our closest allies have shown, that time passed long, long, long ago. The rules for Americans who wish to visit Britain are relatively straightforward: Vaccinated travelers are obliged to take a pair of tests while in the country but do not have to quarantine, while unvaccinated travelers are obliged to take a pre-arrival test, take tests while in the country, and quarantine for ten days. There is no good reason that the United States could not impose a similar set of rules on incoming Brits — or even require COVID vaccinations of them outright as it sometimes requires vaccinations for other viruses. Can it really be the case that we mistrust the British?
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