Over a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, the White House announced that beginning in November, the American COVID-19-related travel restrictions on 33 countries would finally be lifted for vaccinated noncitizens. Details of the new policy have yet to be communicated and implemented, and the human and economic toll of the so-called “travel bans” will linger for some time to come. Meanwhile, the White House’s announcement suggests that the two sides of the Atlantic are converging toward similar international travel regimes — with severe restrictions (if not bans) on travel for the unvaccinated. What are the consequences of such travel policies in terms of politics, health, and equity in a world where many countries still have limited access to vaccines? What might be some alternatives to current border closures and mobility restrictions, especially looking toward future pandemics? What can be learned from the European Union’s experience with their Digital COVID Certificate? And how can trans-Atlantic partners work together to harmonize their standards and renew their commitment to human mobility?
On October 19, the Brookings Institution’s Center on the United States and Europe convened a panel of experts to discuss these questions. Viewers submitted questions for speakers by emailing email@example.com or by joining the conversation on Twitter with #RevivingTravel.
This event was part of the Brookings – Robert Bosch Foundation Transatlantic Initiative, which aims to build up and expand resilient networks and trans-Atlantic activities to analyze and work on issues concerning trans-Atlantic relations and social cohesion in Europe and the United States.
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After the submarines, I think Europeans really needed to have some proof that something was going well [... With world leaders gathering for the United Nations General Assembly, and with the fallout over the submarine deal still ongoing] there was a need to just lift this irritant. [...] It’s definitely not enough, but it’s a good first step in acknowledging at least that your partners deserve a minimum of respect. One less irritant cannot be a bad thing.