IT COULD be several months before Irish holidaymakers are allowed to travel to the United States again.
That’s according Dr Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, who admitted it would be “more likely months than weeks” before the Donald Trump’s travel ban is lifted.
Ireland enjoys a unique connection to the US, with roughly 33 million Americans self-identifying as being of Irish ancestry.
A popular tourist destination for people from the Emerald Isle, travel to the US has been halted ever since the President issued a travel ban to try and help stem the flow of coronavirus.
While green card holders, government officials and anyone with an American spouse is exempt from the ban, the majority of EU citizen are barred and are likely to remain so in the immediate future.
Dr Fauci told reporters [via the Irish Independent]: "It's going to be really wait and see. I don't think there's going to be an immediate pull back for those kinds of restrictions.
"My feeling, looking at what's going on with the infection rate, I think it's more likely measured in months rather than weeks."
With infection rates beginning to rise in several US states, Dr. Fauci believes the coronavirus crisis is far from over.
"We were successful in suppressing the virus in cities where there were major outbreaks - New York, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans," he said.
"But we're seeing several states, as they try to reopen and get back to normal, starting to see early indications [that] infections are higher than previously.
"The question is will they have the capability to do the appropriate and effective isolation, and contact tracing, to prevent this increase from becoming a full-blown outbreak? I'm concerned it's happening. I hope the individual states can blunt that. It [the virus] could go on for a couple of cycles, coming back and forth. I would hope to get to some degree of real normality within a year or so. But I don't think it's this winter or fall. We'll be seeing it for a bit more."
He was keen to allay fears about a second wave though.
"It is not inevitable that you will have a so-called 'second wave' in the fall, or even a massive increase, if you approach it in the proper way."
Dr Fauci did express concern that the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests seen around the world, which sparked by the death of George Floyd, could increase the spread of the virus, though he understood why many are choosing to protested.
"The bottom line is there is a risk [in protesting], and of course it's concerning. We know from the experience of all of us, everywhere, that wearing masks works," he said.
"We also know that when you congregate in crowds that's a set-up for the spread of infection.
"I would say in a perfect world people shouldn't congregate in a crowd and demonstrate. But I know, even though you say that, they are going to go do it. So, if you're going to do it, don't take the mask off when you're chanting, and screaming, and yelling, and doing whatever at a demonstration."
Despite talk of ongoing travel bans and fears over protestors passing on Covid-19, Dr Fauci appeared positive on the prospects of finding a vaccine.
"We have potential vaccines making significant progress. We have maybe four or five," he said.
"You can never guarantee success with a vaccine. That's foolish to do so, there's so many possibilities of things going wrong...[But] everything we have seen from early results, it's conceivable we get two or three vaccines that are successful."
The hope is that a vaccine could be ready by the end of the year or early 2021 with the capacity to provide billions of doses.
"This will end," Dr Fauci added. “As stressful and devastating as it is, it will end. We are all in it together as a global community, and I do see the light at the end of the tunnel."