Europe may issue a travel ban for Americans because of the rapid spread of the coronavirus in the US


The European Union is planning to reopen its borders on July 1, allowing some travellers in for the first time since the closure as the coronavirus pandemic worsened in March.

However, Americans might not be welcome.

The EU is considering barring Americans from entering the bloc because the United States has not adequately controlled the spread of COVID-19, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing draft lists of travellers who would be allowed.

Travellers from Russia and Brazil would also be blocked from entering EU countries under the lists, according to The Times.

The move would be a major blow to America’s prestige and world image, despite the Trump administration’s claims that the US’s outbreak is under control. The US has had more than 2.3 million coronavirus cases and 120,000 deaths, more than any other country.

In early March, the Trump administration barred travel to the US from much of Europe, citing outbreaks in northern Italy, Germany, and elsewhere in the European Union. The prohibition has not been lifted, even as Europe has largely contained its outbreaks.

The European border closure, which came later in March, applied to visitors from most countries outside the bloc, not specifically Americans. However, the new ban, expected to be announced before July 1, calls out several countries that have handled outbreaks poorly and seen increases in cases.

Countries identified as safe on the draft lists were selected based on several objective criteria, according to The Times. The primary benchmark is the EU’s average number of new infections per 100,000 people over the past two weeks. For the EU, that number is 16. For the US, it’s 107, The Times said.

Brazil’s average number of infections per 100,000 people over the past two weeks is 190, and Russia’s is 80, according to The Times.

The list would be revisited every two weeks based on new case counts, the report said.

Prohibiting Americans would have significant consequences for the EU. Millions of American tourists visit countries in the bloc each year. As travel demand recovers and Americans seek to travel abroad again, and as economies normally reliant on tourism seek to curb the fallout from the pandemic, the exclusion of a large and lucrative group of tourists would be damaging.

Similarly, European leisure travellers spend millions in the US each year; the US could leave its ban on travel from Europe in place as retaliation.

Business travellers often travel among the countries as well. However, corporate travel has been slower to recover after coming to a halt earlier in the pandemic.

A finalised list is set to be presented next week, according to The Times. The EU’s member states will not be required to adopt it, but those that don’t could see internal borders imposed or even closed to prevent people from crossing.