Will the EU bar Americans? Bloc debates who should be allowed when travel resumes

Americans may be among those blocked from visiting European Union countries once they reopen their borders to visitors outside of the continent starting July 1. . 

Kasper Zeuthen, a senior media adviser for the EU’s delegation to the US, said the European Commission will recommend progressively lifting travel restrictions based on objective criteria that measure the scope of the pandemic in each country.  

The first yardstick: “The epidemiological situation in a given country … should be as good as or better than in the EU,” he said.

According to EU data, the bloc, plus the United Kingdom, has 1.5 million COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday. 

The United States leads the world in the number of coronavirus cases with 2.3 million as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins data. Brazil has 1.1 million cases, and Russia stands at about 600,000. 

EU officials will determine which countries’ visitors are allowed by looking at the trend in new infections, testing capacity, contact tracing and other steps countries across the globe have taken to contain the virus outbreak inside their borders. 

Zeuthen said the European Commission is now considering which countries meet the criteria to lift travel restrictions, with another meeting set for Wednesday.  

“The discussions are ongoing with a view to agreeing on a common list by 1 July 1,” he said in an email. “Our main concern is health, and travellers will be kept informed as we move ahead,” he said.

Whether Americans will be included on the list of those travelers allowed to visit the bloc remains uncertain given the U.S.’s high COVID-19 case count and lack of contact tracing. The EU’s feud with President Donald Trump over his sweeping ban on travel from European countries to the United States in mid-March doesn’t help. 

According to The New York Times, which first reported the story, and CNN, the EU is considering keeping Americans out and is haggling over two potential lists of allowable visitors. But Kasper said “no lists (have been) finalized” yet.

Border checks were dropped June 15 for most Europeans, though it’s a complicated, shifting patchwork of different rules, and not everyone is equally free to travel everywhere. 

‘So thankful to be back’: Italy, first to lock down in Europe, is slowly reopening, welcoming back tourists

The need to get Europe’s tourism industry up and running again is urgent for the EU’s 27 nations as the economic fallout of the crisis mushrooms.

Even if the EU decides to welcome Americans, the State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently advise against international travel. 

Americans will be welcome to visit the United Kingdom under its separate rules, but they’ll be locked in their hotel room or vacation rental due to a 14-day quarantine requirement.

On the ground: What France’s lockdown was like

In the first 10 months of 2019, the latest figures available, 16.6 million U.S. citizens traveled to Europe, an increase of 7.3% from the same period in 2018, according to U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office. Europe is the second-most popular international destination for American travelers after Mexico, accounting for nearly one in five trips. It is the most popular overseas destination by a wide margin, accounting for more than 40% of trips. The Caribbean is second, with 7.8 million U.S. citizens visiting in the first 10 months of 2019.

Contributing: Dawn Gilbertson, Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY; Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: EU ban: American travelers might be prohibited from visiting Europe

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