Restrictions like testing, quarantining, and barring non-essential travel will be reimposed to United States (US) unvaccinated travelers coming to the European Union (EU), the European Council confirmed on Monday, following a surge of cases in the Delta variant in the US.
A Council’s press release confirmed the US no longer belongs to the EU’s Covid-19 “safe list”, urging EU countries to halt the arrival of tourists from the US and five other countries — Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and the Republic of North Macedonia.
According to the recommendation published on 26 August, the restrictions advised by the European Council are not mandatory among EU member states. Each country will have the freedom to reimpose whatever restrictions they choose or none at all.
Countries that are designated as “safe” by the EU have maintained infection rates of 75 or less per 100,000 people. With the recent surge of the Delta variant in the US, the infection rate has increased to 328 per 100,000, according to the Reuters Covid-19 tracker. Cases and hospitalizations have increased sharply in the US in recent weeks.
According to the New York Times, hospitalizations nationwide have increased by nearly 500 percent in the past two months, particularly across Southern states, where ICU beds are filling up.
2. Lifting restrictions
Two months ago, on 30 June, the Council adopted its recommendation to gradually lift temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU.
Before that, on 20 May, the Council updated its recommendation to respond to the ongoing vaccination campaigns by lifting restrictions for vaccinated persons and easing the criteria to lift restrictions for third countries.
At the same time, the Council’s review also considers the possible risks posed by new variants, such is the case of the Delta, by setting out an emergency brake mechanism to react to the emergence of a variant of interest or concern in a third country.
The Council, the EU’s governing body, said its recommendations will be reviewed regularly.