“Due to the progress our country has made to defeat COVID-19, we respectfully urge your administration to begin taking science-based, data-driven steps to safely reopen international travel to the United States,” a July 6 letter (pdf) to Biden signed by Republicans and Democrats reads.
“By taking these steps, your administration can both protect public health and safety and accelerate economic recovery and rehiring in the hard-hit travel industry.”
The land ports of entry to Canada are currently closed to non-essential travel. The restrictions don’t apply to air, rail, or sea travel.
The lawmakers stressed that high vaccination rates in both the United States and Canada have paved the way to a safe reopening. More than half of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated and more than 59 percent of the population in Canada has had at least one dose of vaccine, the letter says.
The Canadian COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel has recommended dropping quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised that fully vaccinated people can safely resume travel.
“Both governments should follow the science and drop all travel restrictions for travelers between the United States and Canada who are fully vaccinated travelers or provide proof of a negative PCR test,” the letter reads.
The lawmakers are also urging the White House to lift restrictions on travel to and from the United Kingdom. The letter cites research from the Mayo Clinic, which suggests that the risk of a passenger infected with the CCP virus boarding a flight from the UK to the United States to be one in 10,000. The study also shows that the chances of an infected passenger transmitting the virus to another passenger are one in 1 million.
“Prior to the pandemic, international inbound travel to the U.S. contributed $234 billion in export income to the U.S. economy, generated a trade surplus of $51 billion, and directly supported 1.2 million American jobs,” the letter reads.
“However, the steep decline in travel in 2020 resulted in the loss of $150 billion in export income. If nothing is done to lift entry restrictions, the U.S. is projected to lose 1.1 million jobs and an additional $175 billion by the end of this year.”
The lawmakers also urged the president to increase visa processing capacity for business and tourism visas, citing data from April 8 showing that only 57 of 237 visa processing sites were fully operational, and more than three-quarters of the consulates were either fully or partially closed.
Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) appeared at the top of the list of the signatories.