Jonathan Farro, an anchor at Bloomberg, asked the transport secretary about why he was unable to return home.
“We are trying to work out when we will get an update from your administration,” he said, before describing how difficult he had found it.
Secretary Buttigieg replied: “So, unfortunately, it can’t be based on an arbitrary date. It has to be based on conditions.”
“We have convened working groups with our international partners - one for the UK, one for the EU, one for Canada, one for Mexico - to determine the right pathway forwards,’ he continued. “A lot of this is based on what is going on with progress on the vaccines.”
“Obviously we see good news and bad news out there in terms of the variants - one moment you’re reading about a variant happening across world; the next you know, it’s becoming the dominant variant in the US.”
After being unsatisfied with Secretary Buttigieg’s response, Mr Farro revealed his recent family tragedy.
“Forgive me for saying this, but you didn’t have to watch your father’s funeral down the screen of an iPhone on Tuesday, I did,” the anchor told the Cabinet member. “I expected you to bring up the science”.
“I have spoken to scientists about this, and there is no scientific rationale to that policy.”
Secretary Buttigieg told Mr Farro that the situation was complicated and that the US was trying to be “conservative” due to the destruction the virus had cause the country.
He said: “I am among those impatient to see loved ones who live across the Atlantic. The U.S. is going to be conservative in dealing with a phenomenon that has led to the deaths of 600,000 Americans.”
This answer did not satisfy Farro, who then repeated the line about the lack of “scientific rationale for this. You cannot back it up with science, sir.”
The interview concluded with Sec. Buttigieg ruling out the federal government launching a vaccine passport plan over worries about privacy.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the US border has been shut to a number of countries. Other countries of concern, such as India and Brazil, were later added.
Currently, people with certain visas, citizenship or a Green Card, along with a negative Covid-19 test result can enter the US. However, those with a H1B visa, like Mr Farro, must enter the country following a two week quarantine in another country not on the US exemption list.
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