EU removes US from 'safe travel' list

New travel restrictions could cost Europe billions

Photo: AP

The European Union recommended on Monday that its 27 nations reinstate restrictions on tourists from the US because of rising coronavirus infections there, news wires reported. The guidance is nonbinding, however, the EU has no unified Covid-19 tourism policy and national EU governments have the authority to decide whether they keep their borders open to US tourists, AP noted. Possible restrictions could include quarantines, further testing requirements upon arrival or even a total ban on all nonessential travel from the US.

The decision by the European Council to remove the US from a safe list of countries for nonessential travel reverses advice that it gave in June, when the bloc recommended lifting restrictions on US travelers before the summer tourism season.

“Nonessential travel to the EU from countries or entities not listed (...) is subject to temporary travel restriction,” the Council said in a statement. “This is without prejudice to the possibility for member states to lift the temporary restriction on nonessential travel to the EU for fully vaccinated travelers.”

The EU also removed Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia from the list.

More than 15 million Americans a year visited Europe before the coronavirus crisis, and new travel restrictions could cost Europe billions.

The recommendation doesn’t apply to Britain, which formally left the EU at the beginning of the 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, meaning that fully vaccinated adults arriving from the US to the UK don’t have to self-isolate. A Covid-19 test is required three days before arrival in the U.K. and another test is needed two days after arriving.

Meanwhile, 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. Adalbert Jahnz, the European Commission spokesperson for home affairs, said Monday that the EU’s executive arm remained in discussions with the US administration as both sides have so far failed to find a reciprocal 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 taken into account on a case by case basis.”

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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