President Donald Trump made a bizarre attempt to lift the COVID-19 travel bans on various countries starting next week, but President-elect Joe Biden will reportedly be able to reinstate the bans as soon as he takes office. Trump's presidency ends on Wednesday when Biden will be sworn in at noon ET. According to a report by Forbes, Trump is trying to use his last hours to allow travel in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Trump administration announced on Monday that it would lift travel bans on Europe, the United Kingdom and Brazil, starting on Jan. 26. The news was met by a swift and decisive response from Biden's team, saying that this order would not be followed. Incoming Press Secretary Jen Psaki took on the idea on Twitter, writing: "With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel."
On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.— Jen Psaki (@jrpsaki) January 19, 2021
"On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26," Psaki went on. "In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19."
Current travel restrictions apply to non-U.S. citizens who have visited China, Iran, Brazil, Europe and the United Kingdom. The federal government will not allow those visitors to enter the country for 14 days after their travel, no matter the circumstances.
Political analysts are puzzling over the intent behind this move from the Trump team. As many pointed out, Trump has often bragged about the extent of his travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, and campaigned on his strict immigration policy. Some assumed he was trying to force Biden to enact his own travel restrictions for some kind of campaign spin down the line.
According to Forbes, Trump may also be listening to some public health experts who have begun questioning the efficacy of travel bans in recent months. There are reportedly some who argue that international travel is not the problem when both countries are dealing with widespread community transmission.
While Trump has been relaxing restrictions on air travel, his restrictions on the northern and southern land borders of the U.S. remain tight. U.S. officials say that nonessential land travel across those borders will not resume until at least the end of February. However, Trump's policies are all subject to change starting on Wednesday when Biden takes office.