| 15 April 2024, Monday |

EU drops US from list of COVID-safe countries for travel

On Monday, European Union nations decided to remove the United States off the EU’s safe travel list, implying that travelers from the United States and five other countries will undergo more stringent procedures, including COVID-19 testing and quarantines.

Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and North Macedonia have all been removed off the list as well. The list aims to harmonize EU travel restrictions, but it does not bind individual EU countries, which are free to set their own border procedures.

Some EU nations, such as Germany and Belgium, have already classed the US as a red threat, necessitating testing and quarantines, while neighboring France and the Netherlands have categorized the US as safe.

The list is largely compiled on the basis of the COVID-19 situation in each country, with reciprocity also a factor.

Average daily U.S. COVID-19 cases have risen to more than 450 per million people in the week to Aug 28, compared with below 40 in mid-June when the European Union added the United States to its list, figures from Our World in Data show.

Case rates for Israel, Kosovo and Montenegro are even higher, the data shows.

The EU safe list now comprises 17 countries, including Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

The bloc still lets in most non-EU visitors who are fully vaccinated, although tests and periods of quarantine can apply, depending on the EU country of arrival.

Despite EU appeals, Washington does not allow European citizens to visit freely. The bloc itself has been divided between those concerned about the lack of reciprocity and increased U.S. cases and others more reliant on tourism and reluctant to restrict U.S. travelers.

  • Reuters