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Friday, June 18, 2021

U.S., U.K. Commit to Task Force on Restarting Travel

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The United States and United Kingdom have agreed to establish a working group of experts to develop recommendations for restarting international travel, according to a joint statement from President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson. 

The statement, issued after Biden and Johnson met before this week’s G7 Summit in the U.K., is part of a wide-ranging document on U.S.-U.K. relations, and commits the countries to “establish a joint U.K.-U.S. Experts’ Working Group, which will share expertise and provide recommendations to leaders on the return of safe and sustainable international travel.”

The U.S. plans to develop with Canada, the European Union and the U.K. working groups of experts on restarting international travel, Reuters reported this week. 

The business travel industry in recent weeks has pushed the U.S. and U.K. governments to address restarting travel, as Covid-19 cases in both countries drop and vaccinations rise. The announcement of the working groups, however, did not immediately include any indication of a deadline for recommendations, much less a date for Covid-19 restrictions on travel to be dropped or eased. 

“We welcome the U.K. and U.S. governments’ shared commitment to reopening U.K.-U.S. travel as soon as possible. Progress to date has been too slow,” said American Express Global Business Travel chief commercial officer Drew Crawley in a Thursday statement. “We must also hope that the formation of yet another travel taskforce finally produces rapid and meaningful results.”

Pointing to the success of the vaccine rollout in both countries, Crawley called on the U.S. and U.K. to implement “consistent testing regimens with the mutual recognition of Covid health certificates in lieu of any quarantine restrictions.”

The U.S. Travel Association in a Wednesday statement said it hoped to see a bilateral travel corridor formed between the two countries “in early July.”

“Opening a U.S.-U.K. travel corridor is a smart, science-based step to take for both countries’ economic recoveries, and now is the critical time to take it,” U.S. Travel president and CEO Roger Dow said in the statement. “With abundant evidence that travel is safe with layered health measures in place—and a clear economic need to reopen international travel—moving to reduce travel restrictions between the two countries is the perfect place to start.”

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