Issued on: 08/30/2021 – 6:11 PM
The European Union recommended its 27 nations on Monday to reintroduce the restrictions on tourists from the USA because of the rising coronavirus infections there.
The decision from the European Council to remove the US from a safe list of countries for non-essential travel returns the advice it gave in June when the bloc recommended restrictions on lifting on US travelers ahead of the summer tourism season.
The instructions are non-binding, however, and US travelers should expect a mish-mash of travel rules across the continent.
“Unnecessary trips to the EU from unlisted countries or institutions (…) are subject to temporary travel restrictions,” said a Council statement. “This is without prejudice to the possibility for Member States to lift the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU for fully vaccinated travelers.”
The EU has also removed Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia from the list.
The EU does not have a uniform COVID-19 Tourism policy and national EU governments have the power to decide whether to keep their borders open to US tourists. Possible restrictions could include quarantines, further test requirements upon arrival or even a complete ban on all non-essential travel from the USA
More than 15 million Americans visited Europe annually before the coronavirus crisis, and new travel restrictions could cost Europe billions.
The recommendation does not apply to the UK, which officially left the EU earlier this year and opened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from the US earlier this month.
The United States remains on Britain’s “amber” travel list, which means fully vaccinated adults entering the UK from the US do not need to self-isolate. A COVID-19 test is required three days before arrival in the UK and another test two days after arrival.
Meanwhile, the United States has not yet reopened its own borders to EU tourists, despite the bloc urging the Biden administration to lift its ban. Adalbert Jahnz, the internal spokesman for the European Commission, said on Monday that the EU executive was in talks with the US administration because the two sides had not yet found a mutual approach.
In addition to the epidemiological criteria used to determine the countries for which restrictions should be lifted, the European Council said that “reciprocity should also be considered on a case-by-case basis”.
The European Council updates the Safe Travel List based on criteria related to coronavirus infection rates. It’s checked every two weeks. The threshold for inclusion on the EU list is no more than 75 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days.
Last week there were an average of more than 152,000 new coronavirus cases per day in the U.S., turning the clock back to late January, and the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients was about 85,000, a number that has been since early February was no longer seen.
The number of deaths from US coronavirus has been over 1,200 a day for several days, seven times higher than in early July.