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EU extends travel ban on Americans amid spike in US coronavirus cases

European Union flags. (Thijs ter Haar/Flickr)

The European Union extended its travel ban on Americans Thursday, as coronavirus infections continued to spike across the United States.

The EU first started lifting international travel restrictions on July 1, welcoming visitors from 14 countries, including Canada, South Korea and Australia. The U.S. was left off that initial list and Americans remain barred from visiting the bloc for at least another two weeks under Thursday’s decision, announced by the European Council.

The announcement came after EU officials conducted their first biweekly review of travel restrictions, examining coronavirus trends and containment measures in each country to determine whether to add or narrow the list of permitted travelers.

The key measurement: the pandemic outbreak in a given country needs to be equally contained – or more so – better than in the EU.

The U.S. has surpassed 3.4 million cases with over 137,400 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been 13.5 million cases and more than 584,300 deaths.

According to EU data, the bloc – which includes the European Economic Area and the United Kingdom – had 1.6 million total cases as of July 16.

In Thursday’s decision, the EU said residents of 12 countries could visit the bloc, which includes France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Austria.

Canada, South Korea, and Australia remain on the list of approved nations while Montenegro and Serbia were removed. No new countries were added.

Thursday’s decree will not apply to travel to Britain, which left the EU in January.

But those from the U.S. and many other nations will be barred as too risky because of spiking coronavirus cases in their home countries. Chinese travelers will be allowed to visit if that country’s government confirms a policy of reciprocity, the council’s announcement said.

The United States still has its own travel restrictions in place, even though the EU and other countries have made significantly more progress in containing the virus. The State Department has maintained its Level 4 travel advisory from March urging Americans to avoid all international travel due to COVID-19.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was recently asked if the Trump administration was seeking reciprocity from the EU in deciding when or whether to lift U.S. travel ban on the EU.

He said the discussions about how to lift travel restrictions were not political.

“We are in complex conversations around how to get the science and the epidemiology of this right and how to make sure that we reduce risk,” Pompeo said during a July 9 news conference. “We know there is a deep need and desire to get the global economy back going, and that involves people hopping on airplanes, traveling all across Europe and across the Atlantic, and indeed all around the world.”


© 2020 USA Today