Aug 30, 2021 - World

European Union recommends halting non-essential travel from the U.S.

Ursula von der Leyen
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: Valeria Mongelli/Hans Lucas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Council of the European Union voted on Monday to recommend reinstating a ban on non-essential travel from the United States due to its high rate of COVID-19 infections.

Why it matters: The decision, which is non-binding and will ultimately be up to individual member states to implement, comes after weeks of EU officials criticizing the Biden administration for not lifting U.S. restrictions on travel from Europe.

The big picture: Official EU recommendations suggest that for a country to fall under a “safe list,” it needs to have recorded no more than 75 new cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period. The U.S. rates have far exceeded this number in August.

  • The recommendation to halt non-essential U.S. travel came from Slovenia, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency and is in charge of proposing assessments on travel from non-EU countries.
  • The EU had banned non-essential travel from the U.S. last year due to the pandemic, but as American vaccinations increased, the EU put the U.S. on the "safe list" in mid-June.
  • The United States has not fully reciprocated and most restrictions remain in place for European visitors.

What they're saying: "This is without prejudice to the possibility for member states to lift the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU for fully vaccinated travellers. As stipulated in the Council recommendation, this list will continue to be reviewed regularly and, as the case may be, updated," the Council said in a statement.

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