As I first wrote about several days ago, it looks like Americans will be banned from entering the European Union for quite some time, even when external borders reopen. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given how the coronavirus situation has been handled in the US.
Well, we now have some more information about what countries we should expect to be banned from the EU come July 1 (or whenever the reopening actually happens, as there’s always the chance that the timeline could be pushed back further).
EU borders are expected to reopen on July 1
External borders of the European Union have been closed for several months now. Initially they were supposed to reopen as of June 15, and most recently that was pushed back to July 1.
It goes without saying that this is an evolving situation, given the balance between trying to revive tourism while also trying to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The EU plans on opening external borders as of July 1
Americans expected to be banned from Europe
While the European Union is expected to open borders on July 1, it looks like people residing in most countries — including the United States — will be banned.
All draft documents of potential nationalities to be allowed in the European Union exclude Americans, Brazilians, and Russians. It’s expected that a final proposal will be published in the coming days.
The European Union seems to be leaning towards only allowing in visitors from countries with lower infection rates over the past 14 days than the European Union average. Currently the European Union has an average of 16 cases per 100,000 people, while the US has 107 cases per 100,000 people.
Obviously things have changed a lot in the past few months. On March 12, President Trump introduced a European travel ban, at a time when the US had a total of 1,100 coronavirus cases and 38 deaths. As he explained, the US had taken “early and intense action,” and needed to protect citizens from those coming from “hotspots.”
A few months later we’re at over 2.5 million cases and over 125,000 deaths. Even at this point the US still has a ban on travel from Europe, despite the fact that overall things have gotten much better there than here.
Americans are expected to be banned from Europe beyond July
Which nationalities would be allowed in Europe?
It’s now being reported that EU nations have tentatively agreed on what countries visitors should be allowed from when borders reopen.
This could of course still change between now and when borders open, but as of now it appears that only nationals from 15 countries will be allowed into the European Union. This represents a significant decrease over the 50+ nationalities that were initially expected to be allowed.
Visitors from the following 15 countries are expected to be allowed in, per The Washington Post:
Algeria, Australia, Canada, China, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay
That’s still quite a small list. Regardless of what list is decided on once this is finalized, the plan is for it to be reviewed every two weeks, meaning that the list of nationalities allowed in the EU will be constantly changing.
Even though this is apparently the agreed upon list now, there’s still some disagreement between nations regarding the criteria for determining whether people should be allowed or not. Specifically, there are concerns that data from some countries isn’t reliable, largely due to a lack of testing.
Visitors from Korea would be allowed in the EU
Individual countries don’t have to follow EU recommendations
It’s worth noting that while the European Union publishes recommendations for member countries, in reality they don’t actually have to follow these recommendations. The European Union concept has really been put to the test in recent weeks, as we’ve seen internal border closures.
What this means is that we could see some European Union countries open to tourists not on the “approved” list, but this would likely also mean that internal borders would need to remain restricted, which is complicated.
For example, Iceland is part of the EEA (not the EU), and the country has been following EU recommendations. However, Iceland has stated that they’ll welcome Americans as of July 1 regardless of what other countries do. It remains to be seen if that will still be the case.
Iceland plans to allow Americans regardless of what the EU says
The right approach to travel restrictions
Up until now a lot of travel restrictions have been based around your nationality and/or country of residence, rather than based on where you’ve been in the past 14 days (or so).
I understand this is maybe intended to just oversimplify things, but does this really make sense? For example, theoretically:
- Should a Canadian who has been in the US for the past month be allowed to enter the European Union?
- Should an American who has been in Iceland for the past month not be allowed to enter the European Union?
I’m surprised in general by how few travel restrictions are based around where you’re traveling from, but rather are based on what passport you happen to hold.
Restrictions should be based around where you’ve traveled, rather than your passport
While external EU borders are expected to be reopened as of July 1, don’t expect everyone to be welcome. Specifically, it would appear that there are plans to ban Americans from entering the European Union, among citizens of other countries. I certainly can’t blame them for that.
As of now it looks like only visitors from around 15 countries will be allowed into the European Union, so that’s a very limited reopening. We’ll have to see how this evolves, given the pace at which things change.