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EU confirms ban on American travelers as US scrambles to contain coronavirus

EU confirms ban on American travelers as US scrambles to contain coronavirus


American tourists deemed too risky for EU travel

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The European Union has confirmed that American citizens will not be allowed to enter its borders as the bloc begins to ease travel restrictions imposed earlier this year in response to the pandemic. Travelers from America, as well as Brazil and Russia, have been barred from entry because of their countries’ inability to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The EU is easing restrictions to rejuvenate tourism

Citizens from 14 nations, including Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and China — subject to a pending reciprocal agreement — will all be allowed entry for the first time since March as the EU attempts to rejuvenate the continent’s vital tourism industry.

Despite the pressing economic need, though, the EU has judged that allowing US travelers back in is too risky. America’s rate of infection is too high, and the response from the Trump administration has not reassured the experts that this will change anytime soon. The US instituted its own travel ban for visitors from Ireland and the 26-country Schengen common travel area (which includes 22 EU nations) in March.

Although America was hit relatively late by the pandemic, it’s since become the global epicenter, due to what experts have criticized as a confused and haphazard response. President Trump repeatedly downplayed the severity of the pandemic, claiming in February, for example, that the virus was “very much under control”; that the US would “pretty soon” have just a handful of cases; and that the disease would disappear “like a miracle.”

Some US states are reversing plans to reopen after cases surge

Months later, the US now has more than 2.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 126,000 deaths, making it the worst-hit nation in the world, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. Cases have also surged in the US in recent weeks, triggering some states to reverse plans to reopen businesses.

Brazil, Russia, and India, citizens of which have also been banned from entering the EU, are the next three biggest hotspots for the pandemic. Brazil, by comparison, the biggest site of the virus after the US, has some 1.3 million infections and more than 58,000 deaths.

The travel ban by the EU does make some allowances for travelers with “an essential function or need.” This includes health care professionals, diplomats, seasonal agricultural workers, and “third-country nationals traveling for the purpose of study.”

The full list countries whose residents are now allowed entry to the EU is as follows: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay. The list will be reviewed every two weeks.