How Travel Restrictions Work – The New York Times

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Last year, the U.S. became a case study in the ineffectiveness of limited travel rules after Trump announced a ban on entry from China. Because it didn’t apply to U.S. citizens or their immediate family members, among others, and because Trump did little to restrict entry from Europe, the measures had little effect.

Infectious variants of the virus that are spreading in Brazil and South Africa could be even more dangerous than a strong new variant found in Britain, scientists say. In response, Biden is restricting entry from Europe, Brazil and South Africa, but the policy has multiple exceptions: Americans can return home from these places if they have recently tested negative, even though the test result may not be current.

The politics of travel bans are certainly thorny. Businesses worry about the economic impact (as The New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright noted in a fascinating radio interview with Terry Gross). Progressives worry about stoking anti-immigration views. And it’s already too late to keep the variants out of the U.S. entirely.

Yet travel restrictions can still save lives. The U.S. is in a race to vaccinate as many people as possible before they contract the virus, and the new variants are the biggest new challenge in doing so. “I am worried about these variants,” Dr. Vivek Murthy, the co-chair of Biden’s virus task force, said on the first episode of Ezra Klein’s Times podcast.

The U.S. travel restrictions will almost certainly have some impact by keeping out some infected people. But Biden’s policy stops short of minimizing the virus’s spread.





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