The White House announced on Monday, July 26, that the Biden administration would not lift existing travel restrictions in the short term due to concerns over the highly infectious Delta variant, which is driving a surge of COVID-19 cases across the United States.

“We will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a daily White House briefing. “The more transmissible delta variant is spreading both here and around the world.”

“Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead,” Psaki told reporters. 

Under the current restrictions, the United States bars most non-U.S. citizens who within the last 14 days have been in the United Kingdom, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran, Brazil, and the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without internal border controls, according to Reuters.

The measure started in January 2020 when the Trump administration first imposed travel restrictions on China to address the spread of COVID-19.

President Biden has been getting appeals from the ally countries to lift pandemic-era restrictions. Still, Monday’s instructions from the White House mean the United States remains cautious before opening up.

“For any of these recommendations, we are always going to be guided by our North Star, and that is the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and our health and medical experts,” Psaki said.

“It would be actually surprising and odd if our health and medical experts were not having an active discussion about how to best protect the American people,” she continued.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security said that land borders with Canada and Mexico would remain closed through August 21. However, Canada said it would open up to fully vaccinated Americans on Aug. 9.