Irish and European holidaymakers holidaymakers can expect to be banned from travelling to the United States for months under coronavirus restrictions, according to America's most prominent public health official.
Dr Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said the ban could last until a vaccine is developed, although it may be dropped before that. He said lifting it would be "more likely months than weeks".
Millions of Europeans visit the United States in a normal year. The travel ban ordered by Donald Trump in March has some exceptions, including green card holders, those with American spouses, and government officials, but the vast majority of EU citizens are effectively barred. Bans are also in place for China and Brazil.
Dr Fauci, America's top infectious disease expert, said: "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."
During the pandemic Dr Fauci, 79, has become America's most trusted official. Appearing alongside Donald Trump at White House briefings, the bespectacled immunologist emerged as the nation's best source of information in a bewildering time. With infection rates now surging across a host of US states, and protests sweeping the globe, Dr Fauci said the crisis was far from over.
"We were successful in suppressing the virus in cities where there were major outbreaks - New York, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans," he told reporters. "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 added: "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."
The US has just passed two million cases and 113,000 deaths. Nearly 1,000 people are still dying every day. As all 50 states now move toward reopening, weekly infection totals are rising in 21 of them. More than a dozen, including Texas and Florida, have just reported record daily totals. Oregon announced a one-week pause in reopening. Arizona's intensive care beds are 78pc occupied.
In many states protesters have taken to the streets calling for racial justice in the wake of the death of George Floyd and that is fuelling Dr Fauci's concerns, although he sympathised with the need to protest.
"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."
As in Ireland, there has been much debate in the US about whether reopening schools could contribute to a second wave. In the US schools will not be returning until September.
Dr Fauci said decisions relating to schools should be based on local conditions. He said: "In the US we're a very big country geographically and we have a great deal of heterogeneity. The New York City metropolitan area is strikingly different from Casper, Wyoming.
"What we say is to look at the dynamics of the outbreak: what is the level of infection? What direction is it going in any given state, town or county?
"There are some places in the US where there is very little infection activity. Under those circumstances you can be much more liberal in deciding to go back to school. It isn't one size fits all - it depends on where you are. Now, I don't know if there's that much heterogeneity where you are. If there is, then I think that would be applicable also."
For Dr Fauci the holy grail is a vaccine, and he said there was "good news". Moderna's vaccine will start a phase 3 trial in the first two weeks of July, he said. That is the final stage before potentially being approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
"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."
Those vaccines could be ready for the end of the year, or early in 2021, and provide billions of doses, he said. He hopes there won't be "reluctance" to take them due to the anti-vaccination movement in the US.
Dr Fauci added: "This will end. 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."
Telegraph Media Group Limited