The European Union’s borders are beginning to open up — but not to Americans.
The EU’s 27 member countries will allow in travelers from more than a dozen countries, including Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay, EU officials announced today. If Beijing allows EU citizens to travel to China, the country will join the list.
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However, the European Union will bar American tourists, citing the lack of containment of the coronavirus within the United States. Essential visitors, including medical workers, diplomats, students and asylum seekers, will continue to be allowed in. According to EU officials, the list was created based on objective epidemiological criteria. The U.S. has reported the most coronavirus cases and deaths of any country, with over 2.5 million confirmed cases and 126,000 deaths.
As the coronavirus crisis began to heighten in Europe this March, President Donald Trump barred travel to the U.S. from much of the continent, citing outbreaks in Italy, Germany and other nations. Later that month, the EU made the decision to close borders to visitors from most countries outside the bloc, including the U.S. While the coronavirus has been largely contained in Europe, cases have been rising in numerous U.S. states — forcing some governors to pull back on plans to loosen restrictions.
The EU plans to review its list every two weeks, including countries with rates of new cases that are equal to or less than its own. Additionally, officials will look at the overall public health response and reliability from other countries, as well as whether cases have been trending downward or holding steady.
The reopening comes as the EU is looking to boost its tourism industry, which usually accounts for about 10% of the bloc’s economic output. At the same time, millions of Americans typically visit countries within the EU each year — and eliminating U.S. visitors may have significant financial consequences for the bloc. Similarly, the United States typically takes in millions from European tourists every year.