Hopes are fading for the US-UK travel corridor before the end of the summer


Hopes are rapidly fading that the United States and the United Kingdom will agree to open an air corridor before the end of the summer, in the latest sign that an increase in coronavirus cases in Britain work millions of people travel plans.

Officials engaged in discussions on a US-UK travel corridor, which began last week, said they thought it was increasingly unlikely they would reach a conclusion by the end of next month, as some l ‘were initially planned.

Instead they said that a combination of the peak in cases of the Delta variant in the UK, the complexity of the US political system, and the uncertainty over the status of the AstraZeneca vaccine were set to prolong negotiations. in August and also in September.

The delay provided in the agreement for a US-UK air corridor is the latest in a series of difficulties for Britons who plan to travel abroad this summer.

On Monday, Spain, Portugal, Malta and Hong Kong all announced it stricter restrictions on travelers entering from the UK.

London officials hoped they would draft an agreement to reopen the US-UK trip at the time of the Independence Day celebrations on 4 July.

A British official said of discussions on a corridor with the United States: “This will not happen soon. We thought July was the first time we might be able to get something in place, but now it looks more like September. . “

Another person familiar with the discussions said the UK was pushing for a deal much longer than the US.

“The Biden administration is in no hurry. . . and the chances that something will happen before August now seem to be slim, ”this person added.

Non-Americans have been banned from traveling from the UK to the United States since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last March, unless they are holders of a green card, the immediate family of an American citizen, or they may request a special exemption.

The ban was implemented by US President Donald Trump and was lifted by his successor Joe Biden. The UK allows anyone to enter from the US, even if they have to be quarantined for at least five days afterwards.

British officials have struggled to convince their American counterparts to abandon the restrictions.

They had hoped to be able to move forward after Biden this month agreed to implement a working group of US and UK officials to discuss the best way to relaunch the trip.

The UK has reported 22,868 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24-hour period – a level last recorded in January. But with more than 60 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated, deaths have remained low.

Completing a US-UK travel corridor is even more complicated than how many parts of the U.S. government have a say on coronavirus-related travel rules, including the Department of Transportation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disease Prevention, the state department and the White House.

The status of the Oxford / AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in the United States further complicates matters. The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company has not yet applied for authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and when it does, it is likely to apply for a full legal license, rather than a temporary emergency authorization – a process which could take several months to complete.

U.S. officials have not said whether they intend to treat vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers differently.

But UK diplomats fear that, yes, Britons who have been hit by AstraZeneca could face stricter restrictions than those who have received US-approved vaccines.

A British diplomat said: “AstraZeneca is experiencing a real problem. If the United States does not recognize it, it means that millions of Britons will not be eligible to travel if they agree to a new corridor. ”

The White House said meetings on a US-UK travel corridor are “active and ongoing.”

A spokesman for the British government said the US-UK working group had been set up “to help relaunch the UK-US journey as soon as possible”.

“Discussions between the working group are ongoing to ensure that the UK and the US closely share thinking and expertise on international travel policy going forward,” the spokesman added. AstraZeneca declined to comment.

Learn more from Jim Pickard, Donato Paolo Mancini and Philip Georgiadis

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