British officials noted that the United States had not imposed a similar ban on people from Caribbean nations, which had a higher rate of infection than Britain, or from Argentina, which had a lower percentage of its population vaccinated. About 82 percent of people in Britain above the age of 16 have had two shots.
Understand Vaccine and Mask Mandates in the U.S.
- Vaccine rules. On Aug. 23, the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and up, paving the way for an increase in mandates in both the public and private sectors. Private companies have been increasingly mandating vaccines for employees. Such mandates are legally allowed and have been upheld in court challenges.
- Mask rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July recommended that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public places within areas experiencing outbreaks, a reversal of the guidance it offered in May. See where the C.D.C. guidance would apply, and where states have instituted their own mask policies. The battle over masks has become contentious in some states, with some local leaders defying state bans.
- College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden.
- Schools. Both California and New York City have introduced vaccine mandates for education staff. A survey released in August found that many American parents of school-age children are opposed to mandated vaccines for students, but were more supportive of mask mandates for students, teachers and staff members who do not have their shots.
- Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and major health systems are requiring employees to get a Covid-19 vaccine, citing rising caseloads fueled by the Delta variant and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their work force.
- New York City. Proof of vaccination is required of workers and customers for indoor dining, gyms, performances and other indoor situations, although enforcement does not begin until Sept. 13. Teachers and other education workers in the city’s vast school system will need to have at least one vaccine dose by Sept. 27, without the option of weekly testing. City hospital workers must also get a vaccine or be subjected to weekly testing. Similar rules are in place for New York State employees.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon announced that it would seek to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for the country’s 1.3 million active-duty troops “no later” than the middle of September. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees would have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel.
Britain and several European Union countries allow fully vaccinated people from the United States to travel without quarantining, and officials there were annoyed when the United States did not reciprocate. The European Union has since reversed itself, and issued a recommendation to its members to put more restrictions on American travelers.
“It’s a fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again,” Mr. Johnson said in a tweet.
The ban, European officials point out, has kept families separated since early 2020, as the coronavirus was erupting across Europe. European countries have weathered a third wave of infections propelled by the Delta variant. But in several countries, including Britain, infection rates have begun to level off and even decline.
The travel ban is one of several sources of tension in the trans-Atlantic relationship. European allies faulted Mr. Biden for not adequately consulting them on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, while France was outraged to lose a lucrative submarine contract with Australia, hours before the United States, Britain and Australia announced an alternative deal to supply nuclear-powered submarines.
But unlike those issues, which are geopolitical and have little day-to-day impact on people, the travel ban has hit Europeans personally. British newspapers played up the fact that the parents of Emma Raducanu, the British woman who won the U.S. Open tennis tournament, could not travel to New York to watch her play.
“Trans-Atlantic travel is massive,” said Steven Freudmann, the chairman of the Institute of Travel and Tourism, an industry lobbying group. “The U.K. travel sector is very keen to open up to the States as soon as possible and is particularly frustrated because we have opened up to fully vaccinated American citizens for some time.”
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