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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.

Go deeper

Dec 6, 2021 - Podcasts

The Omicron variant’s impact on air travel

The Omicron COVID variant shattered any expectations that a busy holiday season could bring a rebound to pre-pandemic levels of international travel. 

Host Felix Salmon is joined by Axios What’s Next reporter Joann Muller to discuss travel bans, border closures and new testing requirements that are impacting international air travel.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Virginia attorney general fires Jan. 6 investigator from university post

McIntire Amphitheater at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The lead investigator for the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the Capitol riot has been fired from his position as the University of Virginia's counsel by the state's new Republican attorney general, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Democrats say the removal of Tim Heaphy from his post after some three years while he's on leave from the university to investigate the insurrection is likely "retribution" for the House probe — an accusation strongly denied by the office of state Attorney General Jason Miyares (R).

5 hours ago - World

Taiwan's military scrambles jets after detecting 39 Chinese warplanes

J-20 stealth fighter jets in Zhuhai in the Guangdong Province of China last year. Photo: Chen Jimin/China News Service via Getty Images

Taiwan's defense force said 39 Chinese warplanes flew into its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Sunday.

Why it matters: The largest Chinese air force incursion into the zone since October came a day after the U.S. and Japanese navies conducted a joint exercise in the Philippine Sea.

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