Dow Jones reported in The Wall Street Journal that U.S. officials are investigating the possibility of opening up travel between New York and London, ideally in time for the holiday season.
Officials at the U.S. Transportation Department, Department of Homeland Security and other agencies are in talks to increase availability of Covid-19 testing in the U.S. to enable international travel to open up to Americans.
A Homeland Security official is reported to have told Dow Jones that plans were in the early stages, but it would be hoped that quarantine periods could be shortened.
The plan would mean that passengers could test for the virus before their flight and after arrival. It would rely on the cooperation of agencies overseas and within the U.S.
Crucially, the plan is reported to have been approved by the White House’s National Security Council, which is the first step to implementing such a plan.
A new Global Travel Taskforce was established in the U.K. on 7 October to look into the possibility of replacing quarantine regulations with a new Covid-19 testing plan.
The U.S. imposed a travel restriction on March 14, from anyone arriving directly from the U.K. and since 8 June, all passengers arriving into the U.K. need to enter a 14-day quarantine unless they are on the list of exempt countries, called the “safe” list. This list has proved controversial as it is updated every week on the basis of infection rates and has forced the tourist industry to permanently adapt to changing destinations.
The Telegraph reported on 27 August that American and British ministers were discussing the idea of allowing flights to and from “low-risk areas” areas in the U.S.–such as New York–into English airports. A travel corridor between the two cities would eradicate the need for quarantine.
Infection rates continue to spike across European countries but the travel corridor between the U.S. and the U.K. would enable airlines to restart what is one of their most lucrative routes.
In 2019, approximately 5 million visitors arrived into the U.K. from the U.S. and the same number visited the U.S. from Britain. In 2019, more than 14,000 flights were made between JFK and London Heathrow, making it one of the busiest long-haul routes.