For over a year and a half, the United States had been inaccessible to Europeans and looked like a golden prison for expatriates. Of course, holders of green cards, permanent residence permits, and students could come and go freely.
A privileged few were lucky enough to obtain a National Interest Exemption (NIE) – on the pretext that their work created American jobs – and could take the risk of returning to Europe. Others were unfortunate enough to have a serious family incident and were allowed to run to the bedside of a dying relative. As for the more determined, they decided to spend two weeks of telework-tourism-quarantine in Mexico before returning without constraints to the United States.
But for the others, the United States had been closed since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. No family and friendly visit was possible in a country transformed into a fortress, which one dared not leave for fear of not being able to return.
It will soon be over. On Monday, September 20, the White House announced that Europeans could travel freely to the United States from early November, provided they are fully vaccinated, tested negative within three days of boarding, wear a mask and agree to be traced by airlines. This is the case for all travelers from countries placed under “travel ban” or travel ban (South Africa, India, Iran, China, Brazil, United Kingdom, Ireland, Schengen zone).
The strategy of closing the borders was becoming absurd
This ban, supposed to contain the nascent pandemic, had been put in place first against the Chinese, on February 2, 2020, then in early March 2020 against the Europeans, while the Covid-19 hit the Old Continent. In January 2021, at the very end of his term, Donald Trump had lifted it for Europeans, while the West had several effective vaccines, but Joe Biden, who had based most of his campaign on the seriousness of the pandemic, had immediately restored it, tightening the conditions for granting NIEs.
Over the months, this targeted embargo no longer had much medical significance: more vaccinated than the Americans, the Europeans were less a notable vector of contagion; other countries were experiencing more serious Covid-19 crises but were not subject to the slightest American retaliation; the strategy of closing the borders was becoming absurd as the complete eradication of the virus seemed out of reach.
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