EU Removes U.S. From Safe Countries List, Recommending COVID Travel Restrictions
The European Union removed the United States from its pandemic-era list of safe countries on Monday, recommending member states impose travel restrictions on American tourists.
The European Commission, which reviews the list regularly, uses it to issue recommendations to its 27 member states regarding nonessential travel restrictions. However, it is non-binding and individual countries can still set their own rules around testing or vaccination requirements.
It's not immediately clear when restrictions would start or what countries would be implementing them.
The U.S. was first added to the safe countries list in June, opening the door to a summer of European travel. As a result, many EU countries opened their borders to American tourists, including Greece, Germany, and France, with various testing, vaccination, and health pass requirements in place.
But rising cases in the U.S. due to the highly contagious delta variant has forced the European Commission to remove the country from its safe list, as first reported by Reuters. The U.S. is currently seeing a 10.1% test positivity rate on a 7-day average, according to the CDC, with new daily cases averaging more than 142,000. Of those, more than 99% can be attributed to the delta variant.
In order to be placed on the EU's safe travel list, a country must have less than 75 new daily cases per 100,000 people over the previous 14 days, The New York Times reported, which the U.S. has far surpassed.
For its part, the U.S. has also continued to heavily restrict international travel, banning non-essential travel for non-U.S. citizens from several destinations, including from the EU. The White House has previously said that policy isn't likely to change just yet, pointing to the spread of the delta variant.
Beyond the U.S., the EU also removed Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and North Macedonia from the list. It still welcomes tourists from 18 other countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Qatar.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.