Top 10 FAQ about COVID-19 and US Travel Ban

COVID-19 impacts UK travel to the USA

US imposes short-term travel ban for UK, Ireland to stem the immigration effect of the COVID-19 pandemic


24 March 2020 – The world it seems is on pause. COVID-19, or SARS-CoV-2, caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus that emerged in the latter part 2019, has for now halted much international travel. The United States, like many countries has instituted a travel ban which temporarily denies entry to foreign visitors from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the 26 European states of Schengen area. The 30-day restrictions announced by US President Donald J. Trump will be reevaluated regularly and extended on an individual country basis as needed.

At the time of President Trump’s proclamation temporarily banning travellers from Europe from entry to the US, on 11 March, The Schengen Area had the largest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of the People’s Republic of China. It was quickly recognized that an open flow of people between the signature open borders would contribute to the coronavirus spread in Europe. Travel restrictions were put in place for the UK, Ireland and European Union countries’ citizens to slow the virus spread to the US.

On 16 March the G7 leaders, which includes Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Present Donald J. Trump, issued a statement from the Group of 7 that reads in part, “We are committed to doing whatever is necessary to ensure a strong global response through closer cooperation and enhanced coordination of our efforts.” Speaking about a broad range of related topics including health, science and the economy, the statement continued, “We are committed to marshalling the full power of our governments.”  This collectively affects individual plans for international travel between Europe and the United States if only temporarily.

Speaking of requests for UK residents to stay at home, on 22 March the Prime Minister asked citizens for a "collective national effort" including practicing social distancing. He said during the press conference that if it is not done voluntarily, a lockdown may be imposed this week, “(W)e’re going to have to look at further measures.” Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, is echoing consensus amongst regional leaders of the importance of, “comprehensive strategy involving social restrictions, social distancing, testing, contact tracing, and isolation.”


23 March 2020 update: Boris Johnson shocked the UK when during a televised address he declared: "From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction - you must stay at home.” The Prime Minister declared that the new measures are essential to, “protect the NHS's ability to cope - and save more lives.”

Travel Restrictions for travellers includes those with ESTA UK and ESTA Ireland 

Like the United Kingdom and most of Europe, restrictions on international travel are evolving, just as wider global efforts are. Containment, as much as is possible, is designed to flatten the curve of the coronavirus (COVID-19). This means to reduce the number of cases in any given place, but also to significantly slow the number of cases of COVID-19, so that already burdened healthcare systems will have resources in place to treat patients promptly.

And as the hashtag #flattenthecurve circulates social media cleverly it is really a vital concept. Brits and Americans alike are wanderers at heart. As grievous as a pandemic is to world health, there is a measurable impact on the emotional wellness that comes from travel. More than 4 million travel across the pond from the UK each year for holiday and business travel, and most take advantage of the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) which allows for sojourns with a flexible 90-day limit for while in the US. 


Travelling to the US with ESTA

Do you have plans over the next several weeks to travel to the US? The short-term travel ban, which prohibits entry into to the United States will impact holidaymakers and business travelers like. For them, March and April travel plans under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) will have to wait. When the US will re-open its border for international travellers is unknown as the spread of the novel coronavirus both in America and Europe has not yet been contained. The travel ban for Europeans began on March 13, 2020; it will be revisited over the next several weeks.

Instead of booking sojourns, citizens of the UK, Ireland and throughout Europe are trying to understand the global pandemic. We have put together some information from sources including the World Health Organization (WHO), epidemiologists, and infectious disease specialists about the 2019 novel coronavirus and its impact on travel.



Top 10 things to know about COVID-19, your health and when travel to the US will resume


First, 3 FAQ about travel ban for US travel 

- When did the travel ban restricting entry to the US for UK and Ireland citizens begin?
The temporary restrictions for visitors traveling from Ireland and the UK began days after President Trump on 14 March extended the ban the US Government imposed on Schengen Area countries visitors which he announced on 11 March. The 30-day travel restrictions were designed as subject to change, based on the pandemic situation.

- Can I plan summer travel from United Kingdom to the US?
The restrictions on entry into US were set for 30 days, “until further notice.” While it is virtually certain based on the novel coronavirus situation that the restrictions will need to be extended for public health and safety, we don’t yet know for how many weeks this may be. For news related to Coronavirus and ESTA travel bookmark our blog for updates.

- Can I submit a UK ESTA application for future travel to the US? 
ESTA once approved is valid for a period of two years. If you have travel plans for holiday or business in the US within that timeframe, you can use the ESTA to travel visa-free for up to 90 days within in the US.

Understand the Visa Waiver Programme’s ESTA requirements for United States travel. 


World Health Organization and COVID-19 news

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is working to inform the public with up-to-the-minute information. Using Twitter, among more formal communications he has announced news virtually 24/7. 

2 WHO initiatives to provide the public with timely information COVID-19 

1. WHO Health Alert a digital tool which is a, “messaging service with partners WhatsApp and Facebook to keep people safe from the coronavirus.” 
WHO Health Alert App

2. World Health Organization Videos: Education and news information about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, known as SARS-CoV-2 is available on the WHO Youtube channel.

Watch: Coronavirus - 7 Steps to prevent its spread --->

5 Tips to keep you and your home healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Avoid coronavirus germs -hand washing with Wash Your Lyrics
It is an obvious first that you wash your hands consistently but what not everyone knows is that one should do so for at least 20 seconds. Would it be great if there were a cooler song than “Happy Birthday” to ensure 20 seconds of hand sudsing? Thanks to 17-year-old William Gibson of Northamptonshire whose brilliant online tool will allow you to choose songs you fancy and match 20 seconds worth of lyrics. 

Ready to sing and suds?

1. Wear gloves while cleaning – Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in your home, your car, and at your place of work. Replace disposable gloves after one use. The reusable gloves you use must be dedicated for cleaning only. Do wash your hands after removing gloves. 

2. Disinfect regularly and often – Countertops and faucets are among places to clean often with disinfecting wipes or virus-killing bleach solution. Carefully read labels of products. Note that many disinfectants must sit on the surface for a period of a few minutes before wiping to kill germs effectively.

3. Limit visitors – NO ONE wants to do this. But no, the lads cannot stop by for a pint. Nor should your children be having play dates during this time. Keeping your home for you and family only during this time is essential to mitigate the risk of getting and spreading the virus.

4. Avoid sharing food and drink – Shared glasses, or food, like an apple, is not wise. Be sure your kids are not eating from plates or utensils other than their own. 

5. Clean your workspace – Whether a cubby at  home or at your place of business. Phones, keyboards, desktops, chair arms, and file cabinet pulls are all places viruses get deposited by touch.



US travel once the temporary travel ban has been lifted

This is temporary. And whilst we do not know for how many more weeks holiday and business travel will be restricted, we do know the United States is eager to welcome visitors as soon as is safe. When travel restrictions have been lifted, travellers with the UK ESTA will be able to visit visa-free for up to 90 days.

The US ESTA for UK travellers is valid for 2 years! Once approved the ESTA for travel to the US is good for two years. This means as soon as travel is permitted you can use the Visa Waiver Programme for your US holiday. Approval for the ESTA is a good first step. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted travel for now. But you can learn more about the ESTA for US travel so you will be ready to fly across the pond. Feel free to visit our comprehensive ESTA Guide nowESTA travel: UK, Ireland, and Schengen area regional map


Temporary travel ban area

Restrictions for entry to the US apply to these European region countries:

United Kingdom: England Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland
Schengen area member countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.


Travelling to the United States? Do you have your pre-planning checklist in order? Visit our ESTA Guide for more information about obtaining your travel permit. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your comments or questions for travel assistance.

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