Europe will reopen its borders next week. But depending on the status of the coronavirus pandemic and a U.S. ban on some visitors, Americans may not be welcome.
European nations closed their borders in March. They seem on track to reopen borders between each other by July 1. Now officials in Brussels are debating what rules should apply when lifting restrictions for the outside world.
The European Commission says “travel restrictions should not be lifted [in] countries where the situation is worse” than the average of the 27 European Union (EU) member countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
That measure will probably rule out the United States. According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, new coronavirus infections in the country continue to rise. In some areas, the increase is enough to be called a “surge.”
Outbreaks in Brazil, India, and Russia are high too. It’s unlikely that the EU will let their citizens in either.
In contrast, aside from a new outbreak tied to a slaughterhouse in Germany, the virus’s spread has slowed across the EU.
For the EU, key standards for opening up to the outside world will include the number of new infections per 100,000 people and a country’s overall response to the pandemic in terms of testing, surveillance, treatment, contact tracing, and reporting cases. Officials hope to revise the list of allowed countries every two weeks.
But more than health measures, any country is first expected to lift its own travel restrictions for people from all EU and Schengen nations. (The Schengen is an area made up of 26 European countries that have no border controls between them.)
More than 10 million Europeans visit the United States each year. But in a decree on March 11, President Donald Trump suspended the entry of all people in the Schengen area.
“The potential for undetected transmission of the virus by infected individuals seeking to enter the United States from the Schengen Area threatens the security of our transportation system and infrastructure and the national security,” President Trump’s proclamation said.
Most experts believe that until the EU-U.S. visitation issue gets resolved, travel between Europe and the United States will remain paused.
(People cross the border between France and Spain at Behobie, southwestern France, on June 21, 2020. AP Photo/Bob Edme)