U.S. Will Not Lift Current Travel Restrictions Due to Delta Variant — Here's What That Means
The United States will not be lifting its travel bans any time soon.
Following a meeting with senior level White House officials on Friday, a spokesperson told Reuters that travel restrictions will not change "at this point" due to concerns involving the highly-contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus that is continuously spreading across the nation.
"Given where we are today with the Delta variant, the United States will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point," White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said. "Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated, and [they] appear likely to continue to increase in the weeks ahead."
COVID-related travel restrictions were first imposed by the U.S. on China in January 2020.
The country has since expanded restrictions to include non-U.S. citizens who recently visited Brazil, Ireland, India, Iran, South Africa, United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), and the Schengen area in Europe (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City).
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
The decision to maintain the travel bans comes a month after President Biden announced in a White House press release that the U.S. would be launching interagency groups with the European Union, Britain, Canada and Mexico to analyze the best ways to eventually lift travel restrictions.
However, decisions have been centered on the Delta variant, which is rapidly spreading throughout the United States, especially among those who are not vaccinated. According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highly contagious strain is now the most common form of the COVID-19 virus circulating in the U.S., accounting for 83% of cases nationwide.
While the White House has not released any details for when any restrictions will be eased, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing Friday, "We rely on public health and medical advice on when we're going to determine changes to be made."
To check the latest travel requirements for any country, visit the State Department website.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.