BRUSSELS (AP) – Americans are unlikely to enter Europe if the continent reopens its borders next week, due to the way the corona virus pandemic flares up in the U.S. and President Donald Trump’s ban on Europeans entering the United States.
European countries seem to be on track to reopen their borders between July 1, and their representatives in Brussels are now debating the virus-related criteria that should apply when lifting border restrictions on the outside world that were imposed in March.
In recommendations to EU countries on June 11, the European Commission said that “travel restrictions should not be lifted with regard to third countries where the situation is worse” than the average in the 27 EU Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
That likely rules out the United States, where new coronavirus infections have climbed to the highest level in two months, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. After falling back for over a month, new cases in the US have risen for more than a week.
The US reported 34,700 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, bringing the total to more than 2.3 million and more than 121,000 deaths – most worldwide. Viral outbreaks in Brazil, India and Russia are also remarkably high and the EU is also unlikely to let their citizens in.
In addition to a notable new outbreak related to a slaughterhouse in West Germany, the spread of the virus has slowed in particular across the EU and in particular in the 26 countries that make up the visa-free travel zone of Europe, known as the Schengen area, that over 15 million Americans visit annually.
For the EU executive, the main criteria for opening to the outside world should be the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants – the exact ceiling is under discussion – and the country’s overall response to the pandemic, in terms of testing, surveillance , handling, contact detection and case reporting.
But more than this, the country should lift its own travel restrictions for Europeans from all EU and Schengen countries, the committee said, adding “it cannot be applied selectively”.
Brussels fears that opening up to countries outside the country on an ad hoc basis could lead to the reintroduction of border controls between countries within the Schengen area, again jeopardizing Europe’s cherished principle of free movement, allowing people and goods to cross borders without controls exceed.
This principle of reciprocity alone should exclude American citizens, at least initially. The goal is to review the list of acceptable countries every two weeks based on developments.
In a decree of March 11, Trump suspended the access of all people in the Schengen area. More than 10 million Europeans visit the United States every year.
“The potential for undetected transmission of the virus by infected individuals attempting to enter the United States from the Schengen area poses a threat to the security of our transportation system and infrastructure and national security,” said Trump’s statement.
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