American tourists could be barred from Europe when borders reopen
American travellers look set to be denied entry to the EU when the bloc reopens its borders on July 1st, according to reports. While those from Australia and New Zealand will likely to be allowed to return.
Europe will reopen its external borders on July 1st but American tourists may not be allowed to travel because the US is still considered a risk due to the high number of Covid-19 cases.
Hard-hit countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Russia and India are also facing a continued travel ban.
EU officials are reportedly frantically drawing up a list of countries whose nationals will be allowed to travel to the EU, when borders reopen on July 1st as well as a list of countries where restrictions will remain in place.
While the final lists have not been published or even set in stone, the New York Times reports that it has seen two draft versions with the US placed on the banned lists.
However one EU diplomat told Reuters news agency: "There's no list (of countries), just a list of criteria."
The EU is expected to announce the final lists in the run up to July 1st. The lists will then be reviewed "on a regular basis" and countries can be added or withdrawn depending on how active the virus is.
The EU has stated that countries should only be given the green light if their infection rates are the same or better than the EU average.
If they are considered worse, then people travelling from those countries will not be allowed entry.
According to the New York Times, the average number of new infections in the EU over the last two weeks stands at 16 per 100,000 people, whereas in the US the figure is 107. Brazil's is even higher at 190 and Russia's is 80.
'Restrictions should remain in place for countries worse off than the EU'
The US has reported more than 2.3 million coronavirus cases and 120,000 deaths related to the disease - more than any other country.
However nationals from countries like New Zealand and Australia will almost certainly be allowed to travel to the EU again after July 1st given the low infection rates in those countries and the success they have had in controlling the outbreak.
EU sources have told the media that it would be hard to make a case for allowing Americans to travel to Europe given the difference in the rate of infections.
To make matters worse several US states have seen a surge in new infections and hospital admissions in recent days.
"Restrictions should be lifted first with countries whose epidemiological situation is similar to the EU average and where sufficient capabilities to deal with the virus are in place. Restrictions should remain in place for countries whose situation is worse than in the EU," read a guidance document from EU Commission published last week.
The Commission advises other data and information also be taken into account when choosing which countries will be allowed to resume travel such the systems in place to prevent the spread of the virus such as testing and tracing. EU decision makers should also look at whether airports will comply with safety guidelines.
The EU should also look at trends of infections and will take the reliability of data into account when deciding whether or not to permit nationals from a certain country.
These are however only proposals from the Commission - the final decisions will ultimately to be made by each member state.
At least 12 million Americans visit Europe each year
It is likely economic factors will also be taken into account, including the value to the EU economy of American tourists, when drawing up the final versions of the list.
In 2016, some 12 million Americans travelled to Europe with Italy, France, Germany and Spain among the most popular destinations.
Countries like France and Germany have along with the Commission stressed the need for a "common and coordinated approach" and don't want individual states going it alone.
The Commission has also made it clear the continued restrictions after July 1st wouldn't apply to EU nationals, those from Schengen area countries (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland) or non-EU nationals and family members who have their main residence in Europe "regardless of whether or not they are returning home".
"Member States should ensure that those travelling to study are exempted, together with highly skilled non-EU workers if their employment is necessary from an economic perspective and the work cannot be postponed or performed abroad," the EU Commission states.
EU states are set to continue discussing the criteria on Wednesday.