The Biden administration will lift restrictions on fully vaccinated international travelers in November.
Mr Zients cited the pace of vaccinations being administered worldwide as the reason for the administration’s pivot. The decision also comes on the eve of a visit from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was expected to pressure Mr Biden to lift the ban. British officials had hoped the president would announce an easing of restrictions when he came to Cornwall, England for the Group of 7 summit in June, and were disappointed when he didn’t. Their frustration has only grown since then.
The easing of travel restrictions also comes as the government has attempted to ease tensions with another ally in France after the United States left Paris in the dark when it secretly negotiated an agreement with Australia to build nuclear submarines.
British officials note that the United States had not imposed a similar ban on people from Caribbean countries, which had a higher infection rate than Britain, or from Argentina, where a lower percentage of the population had been vaccinated. About 82 percent of people in Britain over the age of 16 have had two injections.
Britain and several European Union countries allow fully vaccinated people from the United States to travel without going into quarantine, and officials there were annoyed when the United States didn’t answer.
The ban, European officials point out, has kept families separated since early 2020, as the coronavirus broke out across Europe. European countries have endured a third wave of infections, propelled by the Delta variant. But in several countries, including Britain, infection rates are starting to level off and even decline.
“Finally, our parents and family can come and visit us,” said Luca Marsura, 37, a New York manager from Treviso, Italy, who has been away from seeing his parents for nearly two years.
This summer he traveled back to Italy, but to return to the United States he had to spend two weeks on the Caribbean island of Aruba. “You have no idea how lucky we are,” he said, “it would have meant another year without going back to Italy.”
Stephen Castle contributed reporting from London.