EU Could Bar U.S. Travelers Due To Ongoing Rise In COVID-19 Cases (Source npr.org)
The European Union is making a list of countries whose travelers will be allowed to visit this summer — and for now at least, the U.S. doesn’t seem likely to meet the criteria based on its recent coronavirus numbers. The United States has the most cases of any country in the world, and many states are reporting sharp rises in new cases as they ease shutdown orders. The EU plans to begin lifting its travel restrictions on July 1 in a move that could salvage part of the summer tourist season. Its member nations are now discussing how to open the bloc to travelers without risking a new outbreak, and the list of preferred countries is a central part of those talks. Chief among the criteria: “the epidemiological situation in a given country, which should be as good as or better than in the EU,” a European Commission spokesperson told NPR.
As of last week, the notification rate for new coronavirus cases in the EU and the U.K. “was 82% lower than at the peak on 9 April 2020,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said in its most recent weekly report.
In contrast, the U.S. recently reported more than 32,000 new cases on two consecutive days – something that hadn’t happened since April 11, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The European Commission set the framework for a selective list of countries this month when it said all 27 member states should agree to one set of criteria to allow visitors from outside countries. The EU’s current goal is to finalize the list before it lifts restrictions in one week.
Once the EU travel list is final, the bloc would revise it on a regular basis, to reflect changing circumstances as countries grapple with the pandemic that has now left some 9.3 million people infected worldwide, including more than 2.3 million in the United States. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, French minister for Europe and foreign affairs, is one of the European officials negotiating the travel list — a process he described on French radio as “very intense work.” Lemoyne said Europe had mostly gotten the epidemic under control and that France was ready to roll out the welcome mat to other Europeans. But he said the EU could not risk letting visitors in from countries where the virus is still rapidly spreading.