EU Advises Its Countries To Block Non-Essential Travel From US

The summer respite for transatlantic tourism has come to an end. After a few weeks of speculations, the European Union has advised its member states to reintroduce a ban on non-essential travel from the US. The new non-binding recommendations are valid from Monday, August 30th.

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It was a brief summer of free passage for Americans into the EU. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

The US far above infection rate threshold

Following a review of the recommendations on travel restrictions into the bloc, the European Council has, as expected, removed the United States, along with four other states, from the list of third countries to be exempt from travel bans.

Travelers from countries on the EU’s ‘safe list’ can travel to the member states without restrictions. However, those arriving from destinations not on the list may be subject to quarantine or testing requirements.

The recommendations are made by the European Council, which is made up of the heads of the EU member states and the Presidents of the Council and the Commission. They are called recommendations as they are not mandatory. It is, therefore, officially up to every member state to implement them or not. This also goes for the lifting of restrictions. However, most member states tend to go along with the Council.

The threshold for being on the EU’s list of safe countries is that the ‘third country, Special Administrative Regions, and other entities and territorial authorities’ is having fewer than 75 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a period of 14 days. Over the past week, the US has had 333 infections per 100,000 people.

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The US has much higher numbers of new COVID infections than the threshold for being on the European Union’s ‘safe’ list allows for. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

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An impatient wait for reciprocity

The US still has offered no indication of when it could lift restrictions for travelers from Europe. As a result, the EU has been divided between those who have become tired of waiting for a quid pro quo and those reliant on American tourism. Earlier this month, European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, stated that the EU wouldn’t allow the lack of reciprocity to ‘drag on for weeks’.

The recommended ban on non-essential travel from the US was first lifted in mid-June, leading airlines to up their flight frequencies across the pond. There was an immediate and substantial increase in seats sold primarily to destinations such as Spain and Portugal.

EU Advises Its Countries To Block Non-Essential Travel From US
Despite its high vaccination rate, Israel has also been removed from the EU’s list of safe countries. Photo: Getty Images

Five more countries taken off the list

Other places removed from the list of safe countries are Israel and Lebanon, but also EU neighbors Kosovo, Montenegro, and North Macedonia. This means that the non-binding list currently has 18 countries, with the addition of Hong Kong and Macau.

The states on the list are Qatar, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Moldova, Jordan, Singapore, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Armenia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Serbia, Albania, and China. The latter is subject to confirmation of reciprocity.

Do you think it is the right thing to do to re-restrict travel from across the Atlantic? Leave a comment below and let us know. 

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