Cruel Summer? Europe looking at banning Americans

Jun 24, 2020

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Planning to visit Europe this summer with a U.S. passport? You might want to make sure you’ll be allowed.

The New York Times broke some major travel news on Tuesday, suggesting that the European Union is planning to exclude Americans when they reopen borders on 1 July. The news, if true, once again dashes the hopes of Americans looking for a summer holiday in Europe.

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The Times got a look at two potential lists being mulled by EU officials. The lists are of countries whose citizens will be allowed in, and Americans are not on either list. According to the report, the two lists are being prepared based on the number of cases of COVID-19 and how well governments are doing controlling the outbreak. The countries that may make the cut include China, Vietnam and Uganda. Russia, Brazil and the U.S. are all being seen as unworthy of inclusion. The New York Times says it confirmed the information with four unnamed sources.

Reporter Matina Stevis-Gridneff calls it “a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of President Trump’s handling of the virus in the United States”. The United States has the highest death toll in the world from coronavirus. According to John Hopkins University, the U.S. death toll is more than 121,000 and there have been more than 2.3 million cases. The U.S. accounts for more than a quarter of all deaths worldwide.

The Times reported:

“Countries on the E.U. draft lists have been selected as safe based on a combination of epidemiological criteria. The benchmark is the E.U. average number of new infections — over the past 14 days — per 100,000 people, which is currently 16 for the bloc. The comparable number for the United States is 107, while Brazil’s is 190 and Russia’s is 80, according to a Times database.”

Travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research Henry Harteveldt told TPG, “2020 is the year where nature and governments extended their middle fingers to the travel industry.”

Back in March, President Trump banned travel from Europe in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. That travel ban was later expanded to include the U.K. and Ireland. Since then, Europe has managed to flatten the infection curve.

The news could be a further blow to the already struggling travel industry. Many airlines and hotels had begun to announce plans to relaunch service to and from Europe and the U.K.

Related: British Airways to resume 29 long-haul flights

Related: Virgin Atlantic to resume 5 routes in July 

Transatlantic flights are among the most profitable for airlines and U.S. and European airlines will be seriously impacted if that lucrative business doesn’t return sometime this year.

Skift senior aviation business editor Brian Sumers told TPG that it is disappointing news, but not unexpected:

“The United States is not close to having Covid-19 under control, according to many experts, and Europe doesn’t want a wave of American tourists infecting its citizens. For airlines, I am sure this is disappointing news, too. But airline executives are smart and they had to have seen this coming. I doubt any transatlantic airline had staked its short-term future on making money this summer between Europe and the United States. Now, this fall could be different. By fall, airlines are hoping some business travel will return, including across the Atlantic. If Americans can’t fly to Amsterdam or Paris in October to conduct business, that’s a big potential problem.”

Harteveldt agreed that the ban will add to the economic crunch. He said, “This decision may also harm U.S. firms that do business in Europe, since American business people won’t be allowed to travel to the region. And of course, this will only exacerbate the financial problems faced by airlines on both sides of the Atlantic”.

According to the Times, the draft lists will be winnowed down, and the 27 members of the European Union will vote on the final list sometime next week. The new rules are due to be introduced before the first of July.

The rules for various countries reopening for tourism have been confusing, to say the least. Greece, Iceland, Portugal, and Spain had all suggested Americans would be welcome as soon as June, but all later backtracked on that.

Related: Europe reopening a country-by-country guide

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses, including the novel coronavirus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019, 2020. Courtesy CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS. CDC requests display of watermark due to emergent nature of outbreak. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses, including the novel coronavirus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019, 2020. Courtesy CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS. CDC requests display of watermark due to emergent nature of outbreak. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

 

Related: A country-by-country guide to reopening the Caribbean

Harteveldt also said there is still hope for tourism to Europe suggesting, “this may be a political manoeuvre”. He pointed out the U.S. hasn’t allowed international visitors into the country since March, and “It’s possible that if the U.S. rescinds its travel restrictions, the E.U. may decide to let in U.S. visitors”.

Meantime, while Americans may not be welcome in Europe anytime soon, there are still 14 international destinations we can visit. The complete list is here and includes Antigua, Bermuda, French Polynesia, and St. Barths.

And a gentle reminder to make sure you are booking refundable flights and hotels in case of last-minute changes to the rules.

Featured image by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.

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