BY: CONOR FINNEGAN, ABC NEWS
(PARIS) — With the highest reported coronavirus case load, Americans will likely be barred from traveling to more than 30 European countries when the European Union moves to reopen its borders to outside travel next week.
The decision has been seen as a rebuke of how the Trump administration has handled the coronavirus pandemic, with the outbreak’s spread surging to its highest level in two months, even as other countries start to reopen.
The EU’s member states are actively debating a list of countries from which to allow tourism and business travel, a spokesperson for the European Union’s mission in Washington told ABC News.
The list will be “based on objective criteria, the first among them being the epidemiological situation in a given country, which should be as good as or better than in the EU,” the spokesperson said, without listing specific countries.
That almost certainly means travel from the U.S., which has reported over 2.3 million cases as of Wednesday, will be banned, especially as certain parts of the country have seen dramatic rises in cases in recent days.
More than 15 million Americans usually travel to Europe each year, with Italy, France and Germany topping the list of countries most visited by Americans. All non-essential travel to Europe has been shut down since March.
The U.S. still bars any foreign citizen who has traveled in the prior two weeks in 28 European countries, Brazil and China. Those 28 European countries include the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as the Schengen Area — a group of 26 nations that have looser border restrictions between them, including France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
Outbreaks in Russia, Brazil and India are also mushrooming, leaving those major countries likely barred by the EU as well, whose member states have largely contained the coronavirus’ spread.
EU countries are set to reopen their borders to one another on July 1, with the list of permitted outside travelers updated “regularly … to take into account the evolving health situation,” according to the EU spokesperson.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. and EU are working together “to make sure that we have all of the elements in place to reopen travel.”
“It’s important for the United States to get Europeans the capacity to travel back to the United States. It’s important, very important for the Europeans to fully reconnect with the American economy as well,” he told reporters, a nod to the desperation in some European countries for tourism to resume amid deepening economic pain.
“We certainly don’t want to reopen in a way that jeopardizes the United States from people traveling here, and we certainly don’t want to cause problems anyplace else,” Pompeo added.
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