EU removes US from safe travel list as COVID infections rise | News | DW | 30.08.2021

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EU removes US from safe travel list as COVID infections rise

The US is among five countries removed from the EU safe travel list. Travelers from these countries are likely to face additional restrictions such as quarantine periods or testing requirements.

Travelers seated at JFK Airport in New York with COVID-19 signs in the background

Travelers from the US could be subject to restrictions when entering EU countries after a recommendation from Brussels

The European Union has recommended that the US, along with four other countries, be removed from its list of countries exempt from restrictions on non-essential travel.

"Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia and the United States of America were removed from the list," a statement from the European Council said.

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What exactly does this mean?

According to the European Council, non-essential travel to the EU from the listed countries will be subject to temporary travel restrictions.

"This is without prejudice to the possibility for member states to lift the temporary restriction on nonessential travel to the EU for fully vaccinated travelers," the council statement said.

The recommendation from the EU is not binding for its 27 member states, which have the ultimate say over border policies and who may enter their countries from outside the EU. However, so far during the pandemic, Brussels' COVID-related travel guidelines have been broadly followed. 

There is the possibility that restrictions could vary somewhat from country to country within the bloc. Restrictions are likely to come in the form of quarantine periods and testing requirements, or potentially in exceptional circumstances denial of entry.

The US still has restrictions in place for EU travelers despite calls for measures to be eased.

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With millions of US travelers visiting EU countries each year, the decision could hit revenue from tourism hard.

US COVID cases on the rise

New COVID-19 cases in the US have averaged 152,000 a day in the past week. The number of those requiring hospital treatment was around 85,000, while over 1,200 people a day have been dying from the virus, the highest numbers seen since the beginning of the year. 

For a country to be deemed safe, there should be no more than 75 new cases per 100,000 people within a 14-day period according to the European Council's current criteria. The safe travel list is reviewed every second week on a case-by-case basis. 

kb/msh (AP, AFP)

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