If you were celebrating the end of the year-long ban on American tourists and planning to vacation in Europe this fall, you may soon be too late. On Monday, the European Union dropped the United States and five other countries from its safe travel list, Reuters reported.
Visitors to the European Union from countries on the safe list have enjoyed much more freedom of movement during the pandemic, as they have generally been exempt from quarantine when they arrive in any one of the 27 E.U. member countries — as long as they show a recent negative test or proof of vaccination.
Back in June, the European Union had lifted its travel ban against American tourists. Throughout the summer, visitors from the US who are vaccinated or test negative have enjoyed relatively easy travel throughout the European Union. And while individual experiences have varied, many travelers found it even easier to enter the EU than expected.
Residents of countries that are not on the coveted safe list might be subject to extended quarantine or testing — or find their travel plans totally derailed by bans on all non-essential travel. The restrictions suggested on Monday are not yet mandatory, and the European Council is leaving it up to individual member countries to either impose or ignore their recommendations.
While the June relaxation of restrictions had coincided with a drop in COVID cases, and European member countries were eager to for the much-needed boost that tourism would give their economies, the Delta variant is now sweeping through the United States. Given the dangerous surges in infection rates in the United States, the E.U. has decided to rethink its plans to welcome American tourists.
The New York Times reports that, “The threshold for being on the E.U. “safe travel” list is having fewer than 75 new Covid-19 cases daily per 100,000 people over the previous 14 days,” and that the “United States has an infection rate well above that threshold.”
Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro join the United States on the list of countries who will no longer enjoy freedom of movement in the E.U. Meanwhile, European travelers are still banned from traveling freely to the United States, despite the fact that the European Union has higher vaccination rates than America.
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