White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 26, 2021. AFP
The United States said Monday it would maintain restrictions on international travel into the country, sidestepping European pressure, as cases of the Covid-19 Delta variant surge at home and around the world.
"We will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
"The more transmissible Delta variant is spreading both here and abroad," she said.
The Delta variant has contributed to a rise in Covid cases in the United States, overwhelmingly among unvaccinated people, and Psaki said she expected the trend to continue "in the weeks ahead."
Asked how travel restrictions would help, Psaki said, "Yes, it is the dominant variant in the United States. That doesn't mean that having more people who have the Delta variant is the right step."
The United States has restricted travel from the European Union, Britain, China and Iran for more than a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, later adding other countries including Brazil and India.
The European Union in June opened up to travelers from the United States, typically requiring proof of vaccination or negative tests, under pressure from tourism-dependent nations such as Greece, Spain and Italy that feared another troubled year.
EU leaders have asked the United States to show reciprocity, and President Joe Biden on July 15 said he would have an answer on the issue "within the next several days" after appeals by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The United States makes widespread exceptions including for students, scholars, journalists and businesspeople, but European leaders have complained that the regulations inconvenience ordinary people and hinder transatlantic trade.