Americans will not be allowed to travel to European Union countries when the bloc opens up to international visitors July 1, the European Council announced Tuesday.
Travelers from 14 countries will be welcomed to the EU, including Canada, South Korea and Australia.
But those from the U.S. and many other nations will be barred as too risky because of spiking coronavirus cases in their home countries. Chinese travelers will be allowed to visit if that country's government confirms a policy of reciprocity, the council's announcement said.
The United States leads the world in the number of coronavirus cases with nearly 2.7 million infections as of June 30, according to Johns Hopkins data.
The criteria used to decide whether to lift pandemic travel restrictions were based on the epidemiological situation and containment measures in each country, the council said, including physical distancing, as well as economic and social considerations.
Tuesday’s decree will not apply to travel to Britain, which left the EU in January. Britain now requires all incoming travelers – barring a few exceptions, like truck drivers – to enter a self-imposed 14-day quarantine, although the measure is under review and is likely to ease in the coming weeks. The requirement also applies to U.K. citizens.
EU officials determined which countries' visitors will be allowed by looking at the trend in new infections, testing capacity, contact tracing and other steps countries have taken to contain the virus outbreak inside their borders, Kasper Zeuthen, a senior media adviser for the EU’s delegation to the U.S., told USA TODAY last week.
The first yardstick: "The epidemiological situation in a given country … should be as good as or better than in the EU," he said.
According to EU data, the bloc, including the European Economic Area and the United Kingdom, had 1.5 million coronavirus cases as of June 30.
Adalbert Jahnz, a spokesman for the European Commission in Brussels, the EU's executive branch, told USA TODAY this week that lists would likely be reviewed every two weeks as new information about coronavirus trends in different countries becomes apparent.
Jahnz also stressed that the EU was not making "political decisions" about which countries should be allowed to travel to the 27-member bloc. President Donald Trump banned travel from European countries to the United States in mid-March. EU leaders slammed Trump's decision at the time, saying it was taken "without consultation" from the EU.
"This is fundamentally not about politics; it is about public health," Jahnz said.
Border checks were dropped June 15 for most Europeans, though it’s a complicated, shifting patchwork of different rules, and not everyone is equally free to travel everywhere.
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The State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently advise against international travel, though U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the State Department is working with U.S. homeland security and transportation officials on a plan to get "global travel back in place."
In the first 10 months of 2019, the latest figures available, 16.6 million U.S. citizens traveled to Europe, an increase of 7.3% from the same period in 2018, according to U.S. Department of Commerce's National Travel and Tourism Office. Europe is the second-most popular international destination for American travelers after Mexico, accounting for nearly one in five trips. It is the most popular overseas destination by a wide margin, accounting for more than 40% of trips. The Caribbean is second, with 7.8 million U.S. citizens visiting in the first 10 months of 2019.
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Contributing: Dawn Gilbertson, Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: EU banning US travelers when bloc reopens post-coronavirus lockdown