EU Proposes New Travel Restrictions to Unvaccinated US Visitors

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BRUSSELS — In June, the European Union urged member states to reopen their borders to travelers from the United States, hoping to bolster the continent’s ailing tourism sector during the critical summer season.

It worked. American tourists flocked to The beaches of Spain and Greece, the countryside of Italy and the streets of Amsterdam and Paris.

But on Monday, the European Union proposed new travel restrictions for unvaccinated visitors from the US in response to the alarming rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across the Atlantic.

the United States of America as a “safe listThe European Council of the European Union, which represents the governments of the bloc’s 27 countries, has signaled that potential restrictions could remain in place for months to curb the spread of coronavirus between countries whose residents can travel without requirements such as quarantines and testing. The new measures could deal another blow to Europe’s ailing tourism sector.

Other countries that have been removed from the “safe list” include Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia. New York Times scout.

The proposed restrictions are not mandatory and it is up to each European Union member state to follow the guidelines. Therefore, it was not immediately clear which countries, if any, would reintroduce restrictions or when they might begin.

If implemented, the new restrictions will only apply to unvaccinated passengers. The Council of Europe is already recommending that all visitors vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine be allowed to travel. This includes three vaccines available in the United States, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna, and AstraZeneca.

Some countries have implemented stricter measures than others, even for visitors from a safe-listed country, but visitors can move freely across the block once they enter an EU country.

Under current guidelines, unvaccinated travelers from countries on the Council of Europe’s safe list can visit EU countries without being quarantined by showing a negative test. But few countries have kept self-isolation requirements in place, including in some cases for vaccinated visitors.

Meanwhile, the United States closed to Europeansexpressed their frustration at the lack of reciprocity.

More than 52 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, with many able to and continue to travel to Europe unhindered this summer. Still, the decision to remove the United States from the safe list could create confusion among American tourists, said Marie Audren, director of HOTREC, a lobby group that represents the hospitality industry in Europe.

“Every customer in a hotel, restaurant, bar or cafe was valuable to the tourism industry this summer,” Audren said. “And in recent years, American tourists have become more and more important to European countries.”

In France, Greece and Spain, US visitors make up the largest group of tourists from countries outside of Europe, according to data provided by tourism ministries. In others, such as Portugal, total spending by Americans is among the highest of any nationality.

But U.S. arrivals in Europe fell more than 80 percent last year compared to 2019, according to the European Travel Commission, a Brussels-based group that represents national tourism organizations across the continent. While figures are not yet available for this summer, Ms Audren said it will take years to return to pre-pandemic levels.

“Further unfair changes in regulations will undoubtedly negatively affect the tourism sector, which is slowly recovering from its worst crisis,” said Luís Araújo, President of the European Travel Commission.

In Europe, the number of coronavirus cases has held steady this month. But the United States recorded more than 100,000 daily Covid hospitalizations last week, a first since winter. EU officials are wary that the influx of unvaccinated US visitors could increase infections in Europe.

One of the Council of Europe’s criteria for lifting restrictions is that a country must have less than 75 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 people in the previous 14-day period. According to data provided by the European Center for Disease Control, the United States has reported an infection rate well above this threshold for weeks, and has been classified by the agency as a red zone – the second-highest risk classification.

A European official who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss the update to the list and was familiar with the confidential discussions leading up to the announcement said the update was based on the latest available scientific data, and the infection numbers in the United States spoke for themselves.

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