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U.S., France keep travel restrictions, London's Heathrow welcomes vaccinated

Travelers arrive at the Heathrow airport in London on June 8 greeted by a sign for travel guidance. Heathrow will start accepting U.S. travelers who have been vaccinated by the end of the month. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE
Travelers arrive at the Heathrow airport in London on June 8 greeted by a sign for travel guidance. Heathrow will start accepting U.S. travelers who have been vaccinated by the end of the month. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

July 26 (UPI) -- The head of London's Heathrow Airport said Monday that Europe's busiest airport will accept travelers from the United States who have received a coronavirus vaccine by August as the U.S government holds firm and France adds restrictions.

The move at Heathrow would end self-isolation requirements for U.S. travelers coming to Britain with the aim of boosting the country's ailing air travel industry.

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Heathrow officials pointed out trade routes between the European Union and the United States have recovered nearly 50% since it started allowing U.S. travelers who are fully vaccinated while Britain remains down 92% with the restrictions.

Britain "is emerging from the worst effects of the health pandemic, but is falling behind its EU rivals in international trade by being slow to remove restrictions," Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said in a statement. "Replacing PCR tests with lateral flow tests and opening up to EU and U.S. vaccinated travelers at the end of July will start to get Britain's economic recovery off the ground."

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As far cargo volume, Heathrow is down 18% down from pre-pandemic levels while Frankfurt, Germany, and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol are up by 9%. The airport blamed British officials for the country's low recovery.

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"Britain is losing out on tourism income and trade with key economic partners like the EU and the United States because ministers continue to restrict travel for passengers fully vaccinated outside" Britain, the airport said in a statement.

While Heathrow calls for loosening restrictions, France passed a new COVID-19 law Sunday to make health passes mandatory for many indoor venues as the country is now facing a fourth wave due to the Delta variant.

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The new law, which led to protests around the country, requires either paper or digital proof of being fully vaccinated or of a recent negative test or recovery from the virus. The health pass was already required for large events there, but will now be required for cinemas, museums and theaters in early August through Nov. 15.

It can also be applied to bars, restaurants, gyms and certain malls as well. The pass is also needed for non-emergency trips to medical facilities and long-distance train and bus rides.

In the United States, the White House said Monday it will keep coronavirus travel restrictions despite pressure from overseas allies and the travel industry to loosen them.

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The White House cited the rapid spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 with its decision to sit tight on its existing travel limitations.

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"The administration understands the importance of international travel and is united in wanting to reopen international travel in a safe and sustainable manner," the White House official said, according to CNN. "The reopening process is guided by the science and public health."

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