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U.S. Travelers Are Banned From European Union Due To COVID-19 Spread

Australia, South Korea, Japan, and China are among the EU’s list of 15 countries eligible to travel in its borders when the bloc reopens on July 1. The U.S. did not make the list.

A traveler pulls a suitcase through Tegel Airport in Berlin, Germany. Getty Images.

The European Union announced Tuesday a list of external countries whose visitors will be eligible to travel in its borders again — and the U.S. did not make the list. 

The Council of the European Union put out its official list of 15 countries that met the criteria for the EU’s July 1 partial border reopening. The EU decided on which visitors can enter based on the countries’ ability to contain the spread of COVID-19. 

The group of 27 member countries have been under a nonessential travel ban for external visitors since March, as the virus was swiftly spreading through Europe. As the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the globe, the restrictions remained in place. 

While the EU said the list will change every two weeks, the U.S. did not meet the criteria for the first round. Travelers from countries including Australia, Canada, Japan, and South Korea made the list. China is also eligible, but is dependent on EU travelers being allowed in its borders in return. 

The council said nations in the EU are not legally bound to follow the EU’s list, but recommend they do. In its release, the EU said it would take travel reciprocity into account; the U.S. currently bans travel from most European countries. The U.S. State Department has also advised Americans to avoid international travel. 

To be eligible on the EU’s list, countries must have close to or below the average number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants as the EU over the last 14 days. Cases must also be decreasing or stable compared to the previous 14 days, and the country must have adequate testing, surveillance, contact tracing, containment, treatment, and reporting. 

The list allows exemptions for certain travelers coming from the barred countries—EU citizens and residents, along with their family members, and travellers with an essential function will be allowed in the EU from ineligible countries. 

The EU barring U.S. travelers comes as the country grapples with increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in several hotspots including Florida, Texas, and California—the three more populous U.S. states. Last week, the U.S. hit a record high single-day number of new COVID-19 cases since April as the EU was reportedly drafting its list. As cases spike, several states have halted their plans to reopen.

The U.S. has for months led the world in COVID-19 cases, soaring to more than 2.6 million as of Tuesday, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Tracker. At least 126,000 people have died from the virus in the U.S. The number of cases in the U.S. is nearly double Brazil’s case count, which has the second-highest tally.  

The other countries eligible to travel to the EU include Algeria, Georgia, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay. Residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican will be considered EU residents for this list.