HomeGeneral TravelThe ridiculousness of the US travel bans has never been more obvious

The ridiculousness of the US travel bans has never been more obvious

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Updated 19 November 05:00 ET: Austria goes into full lockdown & makes vaccines compulsory,

Since the very beginning of this mess, I’ve been a supporter of most of the measures that we’ve seen put in place to try to keep people safe and to keep the death rates as low as possible and I, like most people, have done my bit to adhere to whatever rules have been set down. What I’ve never supported, however, is the belief that the US government’s approach to the pandemic has always been based on science. It hasn’t.

For the first nine months of this year, the US government was adamant that it was right to keep in place the ban on travel originating in the Schengen Area because the scientific data it was being given showed that a ban was necessary. This claim was put out despite all the evidence in the public domain pointing to the contrary – Europe was seeing a steady and significant decrease in infection rates from January through to the summer – and it wasn’t until late September that we first heard murmurings that this ban would be lifted.

Well, as of 8 November the Schengen Area ban is finally no longer something anyone has to put up with…but have you seen the news coming out of Europe?

Just 3 days before the travel ban was lifted on 8 November, these were a few startling facts that were reported by the BBC:

  • The WHO declared that Europe was once again at the epicenter of the pandemic
  • Russia and Ukraine saw dramatic rises in fatalities due to Covid
  • Romania recorded its highest number of deaths in a 24 hour period
  • Daily infections in Hungary doubled from the previous week
  • The Dutch government said that it was reintroducing mask-wearing and social distancing in public places as hospital admissions spiked by 31% in a week
  • Croatia reported its highest ever number of cases in a single day
  • Slovakia reported its second-highest level of cases in a single day
  • Italy, a country with a great vaccination record, saw cases rise by almost 17%

On 10 November, 3 days after the travel ban was lifted, one of Germany’s top virologists suggested that the country was heading towards a further 100,000 deaths if steps weren’t taken to slow the virus down (Germany registered over 40,000 new cases on 10 November).

On 11 November, 4 days after the travel ban was lifted, the Chancellor of Austria confirmed that a new national lockdown for the unvaccinated was inevitable as the country recorded new record levels of infections.

On 14 November, 6 days after the travel ban was lifted, the Netherlands reintroduced partial lockdowns across the county for a period of 3 weeks as the country registered the third-highest daily infection rate since the pandemic started (this is despite the fact that over 73% of the country’s population is now fully vaccinated).

On 16 November, 8 days after the travel ban was lifted, Ireland brought back advice that everyone should work from home unless it was essential to do otherwise and bars, restaurants, and clubs had their opening hours curtailed as the number of Covid infections in the country (the highest since January) had lawmakers worrying that the country’s health service was about to be overwhelmed.

On 17 November, 9 days after the travel ban was lifted, German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a crisis meeting with regional leaders after declaring that Germany is in the grip of a “dramatic” 4th wave following a new German record of daily infections (52,826).

Also on 17 November, 9 days after the travel ban was lifted, Belgium reduced the mandatory mask-wearing age to 10 and made working from home compulsory for 4 days of the week due to rapidly escalating infection rates.

On 19 November, 11 days after the travel ban was lifted and days after a lockdown on the unvaccinated was introduced, Austria announced a full national lockdown lasting “at least 10 days” as infection rates boom in a country with one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe. From 1 February 2022, it will be a legal requirement to be vaccinated in Austria.

There’s no escaping from the fact that things are not looking good in Europe, and although one ray of hope is coming out of the UK where (somehow) cases are now back on the way down, I think it’s fair to say that Europe is now in a considerably bigger mess (infection-wise) than it was in the first half of this year.

So why aren’t we hearing anything about this from our government?

Let me make it very clear that I don’t want a new ban on travel to be introduced and that I don’t think a new ban on travel is needed, but I want the government held to account for hiding behind non-existent science for most of this year.

We went for months having to listen to spokespeople telling us how the government was making all its decisions based on “the science” when its travel bans obviously made no sense at all (you could travel to the US from the UAE but not from Ireland when the UAE had an infection rate vastly higher than that of Ireland) so what’s happened to the science now?

Journalists should be asking the government how a ban that was vital in April/May when most of Europe looked to have everything under control is no longer necessary as Europe becomes the new epicenter of the pandemic? How does “the science” explain that?

The government cannot use our vaccination rate as a reason for a ban not to be needed because over 40% of our population still isn’t vaccinated and the uptake of the vaccines is stalling fast.

It also cannot use the vaccination rate in Europe as a reason not to have a ban in place because we now have unequivocal proof that the vaccines do not prevent people from catching Covid-19 and from passing it on.

So what exactly is it about our situation now that makes it ok not to have a travel ban in place when one was needed earlier in the year? What kind of science is all of this based on? It’s telling that the government isn’t passing comment on this.

I can’t help but wonder if the ridiculousness of all of this isn’t lost on the people making some of these decisions – they kept the Schengen Area travel ban in place while all the signs pointed to a good European recovery and while the infection rates in Europe were considerably lower than those here at home, and then opened up our border at a time when Europe was obviously heading back into trouble and as its infection rates eclipsed those in the US. What sort of logic is that?

Once again, let me be very clear that I don’t want a travel ban reintroduced. What I *do* want is for our government to realize that it can’t come out with utter drivel that obviously makes no sense at all and then expect us all to eat it up like good little children finishing a meal.

It has never been more obvious that there wasn’t ever any science that proved that a Schengen Area travel ban was needed once the Delta variant appeared in the United States, and the fact that the government still claims that such science existed is actually a very dangerous thing.

We already have far too many people at home and abroad who are prepared to believe the ramblings of some know-nothing idiot on Facebook over the information that the scientists give us, so the last thing we need is the government giving these people yet more reason to disbelieve important scientific facts by making claims about science that anyone with an iota of sense can tell are obviously untrue.

The government keeps telling us how vitally important it is that we listen to scientists and pay heed to what they say. Well, the sooner the government is left in no doubt that it can’t get away with using non-existent science to justify its decisions, the quicker that may actually happen.

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  1. What I REALLY want to know when I hear this info / stats are the % of people admitted to the hospital that are unvaccinated compared to the vaccinated.
    The vaccine was supposed to reduce the likely hood of getting it bad enough to need to go to the hospital.

    • I am not positive but I beleive this is tracked by the cdc. What I have not found to be tracked is the percentage of vaccinated vs non Vax that are testing positive everyday. That should be very simple data for the cdc to show but they won’t do so if the data doesn’t support the push for mandatory vaccinations.

      • The CDC stopped reporting breakthrough cases back in May unless they resulted in hospitalization or death and even that data is only available through the end of August.

    • Direct from the FDA “The proposed use under an EUA is “for active immunization for the prevention of COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 in individuals 16 years of age and older.” ”

      The vaccine was never approved specifically to reduce severity. This only became the narrative when the vaccine failed to prevent covid as per the EUA.

  2. You keep picking individual factors and state that each one individually cannot be the reason but you forget to take into account all of them together. To enter the US you need to be fully vaccinated and have had a COVID test. We also now have data regarding longer term efficacy of the vaccines that we did not have during the first months. That is a significant reduction in risk. No – it’s not 0%. It’s possible for someone travelling to get a breakthrough case of COVID in the interim between the test and travel but the risk is significantly lower. We’re at a stage now where the combination of all these factors allows us to selectively allow travel.

    • I have a couple of points in response:

      1) If tests we’re using now are a big part of the solution why was the US allowing travelers to enter the country with non-PCR tests from March 2020 through 8 November 2021? The tests that were in use for almost all of the pandemic have been proven to be unreliable (at best) so what science was telling us that they were fine? And why are they no longer fine?

      2) Ironically, we’ve waited so long to open up our borders that the efficacy of the vaccines that you mention is now wearing off and people need boosters. Not only are a significant number of people not coming forward for the boosters but there’s no requirment to get a booster if you want to travel to the US (something which a number of other countries are addressing). If anything, the data about vaccine efficacy that you mention should be discouraging the government from opening up travel.

  3. Is it that we are not “following” the science behind COVID or that we are following from an absurdly long distance? I think this may be what you are suggesting when you write (above), “…we’ve waited so long to open up our borders that the efficacy of the vaccines that you mention is now wearing off….” The other thing that is perplexing (to me, at least) is how it is that infections/transmission is again spiking in countries (like the Netherlands) with almost 3/4 of their population fully vaccinated. If one assumes even 17% of the population has some degree of “natural” immunity (probably conservative, at least compared to the U.S.) from prior infection, then shouldn’t the country be approaching herd immunity with 90% (74% + 17%) having some degree of immunity?

  4. The vaccines don’t stop transmission. (Bill Gates had a great video on this just last week)

    The vaccines are failing at such a rate, that boosters are needed after *6* months.

    Governments went all in on totalitarian control, and this is what we get. More of the same failed measures.

    Some day you guys will start thinking for yourselves and realize you’ve been utterly lied to and misled for the last 2 years.

  5. What a bunch of whining! China is still in zero-Covid mode and not at all apologetic about it. I realize when it’s your ox being gored, there is something to complain about. But people are making the decisions they make centered around lives, and health, and healthcare systems overload more so than dollars and whether you get to vacation in St. Tropez. What has been the impact of China restricting so heavily? Hard to know but it’s hardly been societal collapse. The international travel industry is a molehill not Mt. Everest.

    • You appear to have missed my point at the end – this isn’t just about whether travel was opened up at the right time or not. It’s about a government talking such obvious nonsense while using “science” as a screen that it gives those who would happily disbelieve all scientific facts an argument for not following sound scientific guidance.

      Also, when you start comparing how we and our government are behaving to how China and its government are behaving, you’re on very slippery ground. Thar’s not really a like-for-like comparison, is it?

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