President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington.
Evan Vucci | AP
The White House Coronavirus Task Force has recommended to President Donald Trump that the United States begin allowing travelers into the country from Brazil, the United Kingdom and the 27 countries in the European Union, according to two officials involved in the discussions.
If Trump signs off on the policy proposal, it would reverse bans on inbound travel for U.S. allies put into place at the beginning of the pandemic as the virus surged overseas. Travel from China and Iran, two of the earliest hotspots for the virus and from which travel was restricted in January and February, would not be relaxed, according to these officials.
The task force was not unanimous in its recommendation, which was sent to the president in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday. The sources said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly opposed the reopening of travel as reckless, especially as agency leadership was signaling to the American public that domestic holiday travel was unsafe.
The policy, as proposed, would not guarantee U.S. travelers entry to those same countries, roiling some of Trump’s advisers who argue that it goes against the administration’s “America First” mantra. But there remain significant disagreement between nations and blocs over what protocols are necessary to keep transmission of the virus at bay, and the two officials who spoke to CNBC said that there may be disagreement between the outgoing and incoming administrations, further complicating negotiations.
In the U.S., the task force agreed that local authorities – like individual airports, governors and mayors – would be in charge of the testing and quarantine protocol required of international travelers once they land, in order to avoid creating a federal regulatory regime that would outlive the pandemic.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment about where the policy process stands, and when Trump could put it into effect. The two sources involved in the discussion said that, if approved, it would be announced before Trump leaves office, but the surging virus as the holidays approach would challenge any announcement before then.
Reuters first reported the consideration of lifting the travel restrictions. The Wall Street Journal reported in October that officials were discussing a limited opening of the travel corridor between New York and London, to take effect before the holidays.