EU set to ban American travelers when borders reopen due to COVID-19 spikes

The European Union is set to ban most American travelers from entering when the bloc reopens next week, with the U.S. among countries deemed too risky over its recent spike in COVID-19 cases, The New York Times reports.

The United States’s exclusion from a list of countries whose citizens are allowed to enter the EU comes as numerous states have reported surging numbers of coronavirus cases in recent weeks, with several states seeing all-time-highs in COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths.

The countries included on the safe list include: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, Andorra, San Marino, Monaco and the Vatican. Russia was listed as unsafe alongside the U.S.

The decision comes as the EU is set to lift its lockdown July 1.

China, where the virus is believed to have originated, will be included in the list of safe countries, according to the Times, but only if it also opens its border to EU travelers.

There will be some exceptions to the rule, as essential workers, students, diplomats and humanitarians will be allowed to enter and travel within the EU. Those needing to travel due to family emergencies will also be allowed to travel.

The agreement among EU leaders is also not legally binding, and countries could individually choose to allow U.S. tourists.

Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy, called the EU’s decision “incredibly disappointing.”

“The E.U.’s announcement is incredibly disappointing, and a step in the wrong direction as we seek to rebuild our global economy,” Barnes said. “In the U.S. alone, travel-related jobs account for more than a third of lost employment due to the fallout of the pandemic. Health is paramount, and the public has a major role to play by embracing best practices such as wearing masks, but we are at a stage when it should be possible to make progress.”

She also warned that the EU’s ban could result in “cycles of retaliation” which would “have major negative implications for an economic recovery.”

The White House has been working to reassure Americans despite the outbreaks and held its first coronavirus task force briefing in two months on Friday. At the briefing, Vice President Pence praised states for reopening and downplayed rising cases because they have been among young people.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the U.S. is working to resume travel, acknowledging the initial announcement earlier this week that the EU was planning to keep American tourists off its travel list.

“We’ve been working with countries all across the world, including our friends in Europe and the EU proper, to determine how it is we can best safely reopen international travel,” Pompeo said in a briefing with reporters at the State Department. “It’s important for the United States to get Europeans the capacity to travel back to the United States, it’s important, very important for the Europeans to fully reconnect with the American economy as well.”

The U.S. has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, with more than 2.5 million cases. 

Updated 6:40 p.m.; 10:40 p.m.

Lisa Conley and Alex Gangitano contributed.

Tags America ban EU Mike Pompeo Transportation travel US

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