E.U. Set to Suggest Journey Restrictions on U.S. Guests


BRUSSELS – The European Union will warn member states to reintroduce travel restrictions for visitors from the United States, three EU officials said on Sunday, as coronavirus infections and hospital stays have risen in the US in recent weeks.

Starting Monday, officials said, the United States will be removed from a “safe list” of countries whose residents can travel to the 27-nation block without additional restrictions such as quarantine and testing requirements. The restrictions proposed by the European Council are not binding on the member countries and it is up to them to decide whether to impose them or not.

Most European countries reopened their borders to Americans in June, more than a year after a travel ban was imposed, in hopes that Americans would visit this summer and help a troubled tourism industry recover.

In essence, despite the relatively high infection rates in parts of the country, the European Union has given the US a summer card to promote tourism.

The threshold for inclusion on the EU “Safe Travel” list is less than 75 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last 14 days. The United States has an infection rate well above that threshold, and Covid hospital admissions in the country surged above 100,000 for the first time since January last week.

But while American tourists were able to travel to Europe this summer, the United States remained closed to Europeans, drawing the anger of Europeans and their leaders for expressing frustration at the lack of reciprocity.

Travelers from countries that are on the safe list can usually visit EU countries without quarantine by showing proof of vaccination or a negative test, while travelers from countries not on this list can not visit for non-essential reasons are excluded and may be subject to further testing and quarantine requirements.

Most European countries reopened their economies this summer after vaccination campaigns picked up pace in recent months. Countries such as France and Italy have required proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test result, among other things, so that people can dine in restaurants, visit museums or attend concerts, which makes Covid passports an integral part of everyday life.

The decision to press for the re-imposition of travel restrictions on US travelers was first reported by Reuters. European officials outlining the plan did so on condition of anonymity as they were not empowered to discuss the matter publicly before an announcement scheduled for Monday.

Other countries expected to be removed from the “safe list” include Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

The European Union overtook the United States in vaccinations last month, with 64 percent of the block’s residents receiving at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, compared with 60 percent in the United States, according to Our World in Data.