The EU’s decision to remove the US from its approved travel list, just months after its inclusion, has shaken the travel industry – but it doesn’t stop transatlantic travel.
EU countries agreed to remove the United States from the list on Monday, in a move that also resulted in the withdrawal of Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
The move means American travelers could again face restrictions on non-essential travel to Europe, although countries may lift the ban for fully vaccinated tourists.
The “deciding” factor has been an increase in coronavirus cases in the United States, an EU diplomat said. The country, which faces a daily average of 155,000 new infections reported, had previously been placed on a “watch list” due to the increase in the number of cases, according to two diplomats.
Last year, the EU recommended countries temporarily suspend non-essential travel from outside the EU, arguing that a coordinated approach was crucial in convincing governments to lift travel restrictions within of the block.
Its list of non-EU countries from which travel is nonetheless considered safe is updated every two weeks, based on an assessment of criteria such as the state of health of the countries, their approach to the pandemic, the reliability of their data and their desire for reciprocity. .
Since the EU recommendation is not binding, the impact of the decision to remove the US from the list will depend on each country’s decision to follow it, which is not yet clear.
It is in the interests of countries – and of the EU’s free travel zone – that they follow EU travel measures, for consistency, but “this is and remains a recommendation “said an EU diplomat.
Croatia, for example, has taken a more liberal approach to travel from outside the EU, allowing third country nationals traveling for tourism reasons to enter with a negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery.
Mato Franković, the mayor of Dubrovnik, said in an interview earlier this month: “You see things are pretty much under control… although we have really crowded now in all the destinations in Croatia.
For the travel industry, the decision is synonymous with problems.
The move “is extremely disappointing for European airlines and our struggling tourism industry,” Jennifer Janzen of the A4E airlines lobby group said on Monday, saying “with the spread of the Delta variant in communities on both sides sides of the Atlantic, it is clear that air travel is not the source.
The recommendation is also “bad news” for travel agents, said Eric Drésin, general secretary of industry group ECTAA. Besides the expected business losses, which risk “further weakening businesses”, the decision “shows that we are still in the midst of the pandemic,” he said, warning that it would hurt people’s confidence. ‘they can travel safely.
Both have called on US and EU policymakers to lift restrictions on travelers who have been vaccinated, tested or who have recovered from the virus.
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