EU considers barring US travelers as it reopens, citing coronavirus response, sources say
The European Union may initially exclude Americans from visiting the EU as it reopens to international travelers following months of restrictions to combat the coronavirus pandemic, Fox News has learned.
Officials say they’ve made no final decisions about the ability of Americans to enter EU member states, which will depend on coronavirus conditions in the United States.
Nations in the 27-member bloc are negotiating between two lists of countries whose citizens are allowed to enter based on how their governments are handling COVID-19. A European Union official told Fox News that according to criteria issued by the European Commission earlier this month, "... it is difficult to see how U.S. citizens could qualify" for entry beginning in July.
“We would certainly not call Americans ‘unwelcome’… none of these measures are part of a repudiation of President Trump; lifting travel restrictions is based on a strict risk-assessment according to the facts," a European diplomat told Fox News. "We certainly hope that normal traveling can resume as soon as possible.”
The guidelines presented by the commission point to three criteria that a country would have to satisfy to gain access to the region: The number and rate of daily infections, the chances someone infected with the virus will pass it on while in Europe and the ability of EU citizens to enter the U.S.
Another EU official told Fox News that epidemiology -- the incidence, distribution and the control of a disease in a given country -- of COVID-19 will be "crucial" in any decision. A recent Johns Hopkins study put the daily case rate of COVID-19 in the U.S. at approximately 27,000. In the EU, with a population of more than one-third that of the U.S., it was at approximately 4,000 cases per day.
President Trump announced in March that citizens from most EU nations would not be admitted into the U.S. as a precautionary measure -- a move that angered European leaders.
A final list of acceptable visitors could be presented next week, however, the EU can't force members to adopt it, according to The New York Times. Officials have warned that the failure of member nations to abide by the list can result in the reintroduction of borders. The list would be revised every two weeks based on incoming data, according to the newspaper.
Free travel within the bloc is one of the EU's core principles, which has been severely disrupted by the outbreak. Europe has since made progress combating the virus and countries are eager to reopen their economies.
It's not clear how the prohibition of Americans would affect Europe's tourist economy. Millions of Americans visit the region each year and many also travel to the EU for business.
Obtaining accurate data on the number of infections could pose a problem, as the numbers are dependent on the honesty and testing efforts in each country.
Over the weekend, Trump told supporters at a rally in Tulsa, Okla., that he directed aides to slow down coronavirus testing.
"Testing is a double-edged sword," Trump said. "We've tested now 25 million people. It's probably 20 million people more than anybody else ... Here's the bad part: When you do testing to that extent, you're going to find more people, you're going to find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing down -- please."
He later said "I don't kid."
China has been accused of withholding crucial information and falsifying the number of infections. The European Commission has accused Beijing and Russia of running disinformation campaigns within EU borders regarding the pandemic.