When Could The US Relax Travel Restrictions From Europe?

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Since March, the United States has limited the entry of foreign nationals from Europe. This proclamation is still in effect and may dampen enthusiasm to travel and further create a struggle for airlines that fly lucrative transatlantic routes.

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Many are eagerly waiting for the US to lift European travel restrictions. Photo: Getty Images

What current restrictions are in place?

As per a proclamation issued in March, foreign nationals physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period prior to entering the United States will be barred from entry. It does not apply to US citizens or lawful permanent residents and their immediate family members.

For those who are not affected by the travel restrictions, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) strongly urges people to self-quarantine for 14 days to monitor for symptoms.

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The March announcement sent many travelers scrambling to get a flight home. Photo: Getty Images

How do these restrictions impact travel?

These restrictions limit the number of people who can enter the United States. Airlines are not just flying US citizens to the US, but also foreign nationals into the country. This includes people who are coming on a holiday, or people who conduct essential business, and even some students (current and prospective). For airlines, this is not an ideal situation. And for a battered tourism industry, any restrictions on potential travelers further limits revenue potential. These are the same as restrictions placed on travel from China and Brazil.

Fewer travelers do not bode well for hotels and tourist-driven localities. Photo: Getty Images

When could restrictions be lifted?

The US government has not indicated when these restrictions could be lifted. When the proclamation was signed, it contained the following wording on termination:

“This proclamation shall remain in effect until terminated by the President. The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall recommend that the President continue, modify, or terminate this proclamation as described in section 5 of Proclamation 9984, as amended.”

Section 5 of Proclamation 9984 says the following:

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“This proclamation shall remain in effect until terminated by the President. The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall, as circumstances warrant and no more than 15 days after the date of this order and every 15 days thereafter, recommend that the President continue, modify, or terminate this proclamation.”

In terms of the virus, overall new European case numbers have remained low after France, Italy, and Spain were hard-hit. And per a New York Times report from April, most COVID-19 cases came to New York City, one of the epicenters of the outbreak in the United States, from Europe, adding scrutiny on the busy transatlantic corridor.

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The focus on public health has left current restrictions intact. Photo: Getty Images

One of the busiest international air corridors for passengers is transatlantic flights between the East Coast of the US and western Europe. At its peak, there have been hundreds of flights per day between the United States and Europe. This free flow of passengers has some people worried about sustained viral transmission.

As for when the travel restrictions will be lifted, the US may maintain those restrictions through the summer. EU states are cautiously opening up borders next month while others are considering an even longer wait. If more new cases start to appear in Europe, it could lead the US to maintain the current restrictions, whereas a stagnation or decrease in current case numbers could warrant the removal of such barriers.

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Restrictions on both sides of the Atlantic currently inhibit travel. Photo: Getty Images

The US and the EU are close partners and will likely work together. If European countries start broadly accepting international travelers, expect the US to follow suit. Still, it may not be until July or even August before these restrictions are lifted. Travel from China, where the situation has significantly improved, remains barred for foreign nationals.

When do you think the US will lift EU travel restrictions? Do you want the US to lift travel restrictions? Let us know in the comments!

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