EU takes US off safe travel list; backs travel restrictions

Coronavirus

Travelers are lining up at O’Hare airport in Chicago, Friday, July 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union recommended Monday that its 27 nations reinstate restrictions on tourists from the U.S. because of rising coronavirus infections there.

The decision by the European Council to remove the U.S. from a safe list of countries for nonessential travel reverses advice that it gave in June, when the bloc recommended lifting restrictions on U.S. travelers before the summer tourism season. The guidance is nonbinding, however, and U.S. travelers should expect a mishmash of travel rules across the continent.

The EU has no unified COVID-19 tourism policy and national EU governments have the authority to decide whether they keep their borders open to U.S. tourists.

The EU also removed Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia from the safe travel list.

The United States has yet to reopen its own borders to EU tourists, despite calls from the bloc for the Biden administration to lift its ban.

The European Council updates the safe travel list based on criteria relating to coronavirus infection levels. It gets reviewed every two weeks. The threshold for being on the EU list is having not more than 75 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days.

Last week in the U.S. new coronavirus cases averaged over 152,000 a day, turning the clock back to the end of January, and the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients was around 85,000, a number not seen since early February.

U.S. coronavirus deaths have been over 1,200 a day for several days, seven times higher than they were in early July.

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