As expected, European travel restrictions are returning as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the USA. The United States is one of five nations targeted for new travel curbs by the European Union, which includes the suspension of nonessential travel. But the new EU order does leave some hope vaccinated travelers will be spared.
As COVID-19 Cases Surge, European Union Expected To Propose New Restrictions On American Travelers
With the backdrop of a disturbing rise in case numbers and vaccine hesitancy leading to more severe cases in the USA, European Union leaders reviewed its list of “safe” nations last week. This afternoon, the EU announced the USA had not made the cut, which focuses on two areas:
- Case numbers
- Reciprocity considerations
By both metrics, the USA fails. Case numbers have spiked to over 150,000 per day, with the trend on the upswing, not decline. Furthermore, the ratio of positive tests versus total tests taken is narrowing, an alarming figure that EU authorities also consider when making a determination.
The second metric is reciprocity, an issue that continues to frustrate EU leaders who have not been able to convince the Biden Administration to lift U.S. travel restrictions for residents of the 26-member Schengen nation block as well as the Republic of Ireland.
European Union member states view the current U.S. rules as absurd, rewarding some nations and punishing others without reference to actual case numbers or vaccine progress. View From The Wing noted a statement from American Airlines CEO Doug Parker made during a recent New York Times interview that I also found incredibly revealing:
“We had a consultant come in, she’s from Munich. She, in order to get to the United States, flew to Cancun for two weeks, and then she was allowed to enter. She was a lot safer in Munich than she was in Cancun. But that’s what we’re doing.”
As Europeans grow weary of what they deem a non-sensical system, entry restrictions may return in part driven by this lack of proportionality.
Consequently, the European Union updated its list of of epidemiologically safe countries, a move that will result in restrictions on non-essential travelers from the United States. Five other nations will face similar entry restrictions, including:
- North Macedonia
However, the EU order leaves hope that individual member states will exempt vaccinated travelers from the non-essential travel ban. The order leaves open “the possibility for member states to lift the temporary restriction on nonessential travel…for fully vaccinated travelers.”
The entire EU order is only a recommendation. It will now be up to each member state to adapt its own policies concerning American travelers. With summer travel still in progress, an entry ban or harsher entry restrictions in some or all nations might well only come into effect in September (Germany, for example, has already cracked down on unvaccinated Americans).
Earlier this month, the European Union elected it would not update its safe list, though changed its mind in light of worsening numbers in the USA.
Reuters reports EU nations are divided over whether to punish the United States for a lack of reciprocity, with member states heavily reliant upon tourism expressing hesitation to remove the USA from its safe list. But with case numbers growing, travel curbs will return.
Rising case numbers in the USA give EU leaders a perfect cover for blocking Americans on reciprocity grounds. Whatever the cause, there is currently tremendous uncertainty on transatlantic travel recovery and an increasing likelihood that United States citizens will soon be restricted from travel to many European nations once again, especially if not vaccinated. Stay tuned for how member states decide to adapt today’s EU determination.