US president Joe Biden has promised an update on when the US might lift its Covid travel bans "within the next several days".
Biden made the remark when pressed by German chancellor Angela Merkel, who is currently visiting Washington, on the resumption of travel between the US and Europe.
Travel between the US and Europe has effectively been on hold for 16 months now owing to an edict signed off by former US president Donald Trump.
"It’s in process now," said Biden. "I’ll be able to answer that question within the next several days. I’m waiting to hear from our folks in our Covid team as to when that should be done."
The hint comes after a concerted lobbying effort on both sides of the Atlantic to restore transatlantic travel, with the UK and US already having committed to setting up a taskforce – headed up by transport secretary Grant Shapps – to achieve this.
The Foreign Office last week eased its US travel advice, removing its Covid-specific advice so it no longer advises against all but essential travel to the US on Covid grounds.
The US, meanwhile, is currently advising its residents to "reconsider travel" to the UK due to Covid-19, with the US State Department’s level three travel advisory having stood since 16 June.
US Travel Association executive vice-president of public affairs and policy, Tori Emerson Barnes, welcomed Biden’s comments.
"The science says we can safely reopen international travel now, particularly for countries that have made considerable progress toward vaccinating their citizens," said Barnes.
"With proper safeguards in place, studies by the US Department of Defense, the Mayo Clinic and Harvard University, have all independently concluded the safety of air travel today."
Barnes warned the current "outdated" restrictions on travel were "wreaking economic damage" on the US, and continuing to separate thousands of individuals from their families and loved ones.
"Travel bans related to Canada, Europe and the UK alone cost the US economy $1.5 billion every week – enough to support 10,000 American jobs," said Barnes.
"The US travel industry urges the Biden administration, in accordance with the latest science, to swiftly revise its entry policies on international travel."