US to relax travel ban, allowing fully vaccinated passengers from UK and EU to enter country – live

1 month ago

The news that the US was lifting travel restrictions for foreign travelers reportedly took British Prime Minister Boris Johnson by surprise.

Biden is due to meet with Johnson at the White House tomorrow, after the president’s appearance at the UN General Assembly. Johnson was expected to press the president to lift the travel ban, which was first implemented 18 months ago by the Trump administration to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar)

NEW: Double jabbed Brits given green light to travel to US from November, White House confirms.

But announcement appears to have taken Boris Johnson by surprise. He told us on plane not to "hold your breath" US borders would be reopened any time soon.https://t.co/5siM9O3yjp

September 20, 2021

Updated at 10.34am EDT

US to relax travel restrictions for fully vaccinated international passengers

The US will lift Covid-19 travel restrictions to allow fully vaccinated passengers from the UK, EU, China, Brazil and several other countries to enter the country from November, the Biden administration announced on Monday.

The decision from the White House will mark the end of a travel ban imposed by Donald Trump more than 18 months ago in the early stages of the pandemic.

Under the current policy, only US citizens, members of their immediate families, green card holders and those with national interest exemptions (NIE) can travel into the US if they have been in the UK or EU in the previous two weeks.

The change of direction comes at the start of the UN General Assembly in New York and marks the culmination of weeks of intense diplomacy between Washington, London and Brussels. It also comes days after France recalled its ambassador to the US and Australia in protest over the administration’s decision to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

The travel restrictions were increasingly a source of tension between the US and European leaders in particular, after the EU opened its doors to Americans months ago.

The Lincoln Project has questioned if the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, used political influence to pull a TV ad criticising his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a statement issued on Sunday, the group, formed by anti-Trump Republicans, was told the ad, Abbott’s Wall, was being pulled just 10 minutes before it was due to air on ESPN during a nationally televised football game between the University of Texas and Rice University on Saturday night.

The 60-second slot, which the Lincoln Project said cost $25,000 and was approved by ESPN lawyers, blames the Republican governor for more than 60,000 Covid deaths in the state, against a backdrop of images of the US southern border wall.

“If Governor Abbott wants to build a new wall, tell him to stop building this one,” the message says, showing a wall constructed from coffins.

Wood from caskets of all the Covid-19 victims in Texas would stretch 85 miles, the ad claims. It remains watchable on YouTube.

“We were told it was a ‘university-made decision’” to pull the ad, the Lincoln Project said in a press release. “Did Greg Abbott or his allies assert political influence to ensure the advertisement was not broadcast?”

Abbott and the University of Texas did not immediately comment.

Martin Pengelly

NBC News reports that nearly 900 state legislators from 45 states have filed a brief with the supreme court, asking it to reject a 15-week abortion ban enacted by Mississippi and thereby uphold Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling guaranteeing the right to an abortion.

The issue is front and centre at the moment, after the court allowed to stand a Texas law which outlaws abortion after six weeks and allows private citizens to sue providers and those who help them.

The court is now dominated 6-3 by conservatives, and whatever justices from either side of the aisle (Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer) ritualistically claim to the contrary, that imbalance is shaping its view of abortion rights. For progressives, not to the good.

Of the 897 state legislators who signed the brief, NBC reported, 895 were Democrats and two independents. The only states not to provide at least one signatory were Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Wyoming.

Here’s more, on a remarkable and moving intervention in the abortion debate this weekend – from a doctor in Texas:

In news sure to be welcomed by parents across the US, Pfizer and BioNTech said this morning children aged five to 11 are on track to receive the two companies’ Covid-19 vaccination by Halloween.

Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer, hailed “the first results from a pivotal trial of a Covid-19 vaccine in this age group”.

If the regulatory process proceeds as it has for older age groups, authorisation for use would be expected by the end of October. Earlier this month, FDA chief, Dr Peter Marks, told the Associated Press that once Pfizer turned over results, his agency would evaluate the data “hopefully in a matter of weeks”.

Pfizer and BioNTech said European and British authorities would also be asked for emergency authorisation.

Good morning…

…and welcome to our coverage of the day in US politics.

It might not be a very good day for Democrats in Washington, from Joe Biden in the White House down to leaders, at least, in the House and the Senate. It will at least be a very busy one.

On Sunday night, the Senate parliamentarian delivered a blow to progressives in the party when she said they could not include a path to citizenship for undocumented migrants in the gargantuan spending bill they are hoping to pass via reconciliation, meaning by majority alone in the Senate. Majority leader Chuck Schumer indicated he would have another think.

Furthermore, efforts to keep the party together on that $3.5tn spending package, difficult at the best of times, seem to be fraying quite badly. Senior party figures have indicated a promised House vote on a bipartisan infrastructure deal meant to be paired with the spending bill might be delayed. That would anger progressives, while moderates continue to feel queasy about the bigger spending package.

In the Senate, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, two key moderates in a chamber split 50-50, have doubts about the spending bill and have reportedly voiced them, Manchin to constituents and Sinema to Biden, in the Oval Office.

On top of all that, there are 10 days left to sort out government funding and avoid a shutdown, while in the Senate the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, is refusing to play ball on raising the debt limit, which the US must soon do. That’s rather unprecedented but McConnell is gonna McConnell – the author of a memoir called The Long Game has his eye on the midterms in 2022, as well as beating back/appeasing the Trumpist wave in his own party and keeping hold of the reins.

In the midst of all this, Joe Biden is due to fly to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, with questions about the rise of China, the withdrawal from Afghanistan and of course much more buzzing around the big modern building on the banks of the rolling East River.

Expect a busy day. Here to set you up is Lauren Gambino’s excellent primer on what all the machinations in Congress might mean for Biden’s legacy and the Democrats’ hold on power:

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