A new wave of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the United States is prompting the European Union to advise member states to ban nonessential travel from the U.S. The EU travel ban would come less than three months after the European nations encouraged Americans to travel.
As the New York Times reported in its Aug. 30 story, “the United States will be removed from a ‘safe list’ of countries whose residents can travel to the 27-nation bloc without additional restrictions, such as quarantine and testing requirements. The suggested restrictions, made by the European Council, will not be mandatory for member countries, and it will remain up to those countries to decide whether or not to impose them.”
The Washington Post, in its reporting, noted that the EU travel ban “can vary from state to state, but it is widely expected that fully vaccinated Americans would still maintain unfettered access” for travel, according to an EU diplomat who spoke on the condition of anonymity. It’s not yet clear how that will manifest for individual member states.
The EU maintains a “safe travel” threshold for citizens from individual nations. To be on this safe travel list a nation must have fewer than 75 new COVID cases per 100,000 people each day over the previous 14 days. The US is now well above that threshold, battling a delta variant-fueled wave that’s led it to have more than 100,000 hospitalized patients for the first time since January.
According to CNN’s reporting, several other countries, including Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and North Macedonia are also being restricted.
Fox Business noted that the June decision to let US travelers into EU nations was “one of a number of actions in Washington and Europe to reset relations after tensions under the Trump administration. It came shortly after President Biden visited Brussels to speak with EU leaders.”
But, as the Associated Press pointed out, “The United States has yet to reopen its own borders to EU tourists, despite calls from the bloc for the Biden administration to lift its ban.”
Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund tracking travel policy, remarked regarding the EU travel ban, “The United States got a free pass over the summer, even as the situation in many parts of the country deteriorated dramatically. The U.S. exceptions became harder and harder to defend in the face of a lack of reciprocity from the Biden administration.”