The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), of which Irish airline Aer Lingus is a member, has written a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to immediately end the European travel ban that has been in place in the US since March 2020.

The US-based APEX presents several convincing arguments in its August 11 letter to President Biden as to why the ban on travelers from Europe, including Ireland, should be ended "effective immediately."

Ireland has been included in the travel ban imposed on most European countries since it was enacted by President Trump in March 2020. In January 2021, upon his inauguration, President Biden issued his own proclamation extending the travel ban.  

On July 19, Ireland, along with the rest of the EU, officially lifted travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers from the US, meaning no more quarantine or pre-travel testing for travelers who can produce valid proof of vaccination. (Ireland's travel regulations, which can change without much notice, are available here.)

The US has not reciprocated - most noncitizens from Europe continue to be blocked from entering the US. Further, the CDC and US State Department recently placed a "do not travel" advisory on both Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland.

However, there is speculation that the US may be gearing up to unveil a system where vaccinated Europeans can enter the US. This remains unconfirmed.

As APEX notes, the continuing ban on Europeans is particularly frustrating as foreign nationals from 160 countries may enter the US without any vaccination requirement after COVID-19 testing or with 90-day proof of COVID-19 recovery.

In its letter published on August 11, APEX says: “Thank you for your administration’s leadership in public discussion on reopening America for vaccinated individuals from Europe. Many of these European nations have warmly opened their arms to vaccinated Americans. The United States must now reciprocate before Europe’s doors are closed to vaccinated Americans, as hinted at last week by the European Commission President.

“On behalf of the millions of vaccinated airline passengers across Europe, we ask for you, Mr.President, to reopen the doors to the United States now.

“The previous administration closed travel to our European allies at a time before the vaccines. With our country having reached over 70% of adults vaccinated, we know that welcoming fully vaccinated individuals from Europe that are additionally tested prior to entry only strengthens your administration’s message: vaccination provides all of us more freedom

“APEX proposes a staged reopening of the United States for vaccinated international travelers beginning with Europe, effective immediately. As the largest international airline association advocating for passenger experience, APEX points proudly to the scientific facts touted by your administration. Every European country currently blocked by the United States has significantly lower COVID-19 infection rates than our nation.

"Citing US Centers for Disease Control guidance: ‘People who are fully vaccinated with FDA-authorized vaccine or a vaccine authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization can travel safely within the United States.’

“Finally, we strongly believe that the US must show that vaccination stands as a beacon of hope for overcoming the human toll experienced by millions of Europeans divided from their families, friends, and colleagues."

"Mr. President, America’s continued blockade of Europeans has separated families, friends, colleagues, and our world for too long," the letter says,

“We implore you to use your power as President to immediately enable Europe as a test of your administration’s proposed vaccinated international travel program for foreign internationals. Our airlines are ready, our European travelers are ready, and our world needs your inspirational vaccinated leadership forward.”

The letter from APEX comes not long after Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, told RND, a German publication: "The epidemiological situation in the US and the EU today is very similar. 

“We need to solve the problem as soon as possible and are in contact with our American friends. This must not drag on for weeks.”

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