The European Union recommended Monday that Americans should be banned from non-essential travel to the 27 member nations as COVID numbers continue a rapid rise in the United States.
The non-binding recommendation means the United States has been taken off a list of safe countries. Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and North Macedonia were also taken off the safe list.
Although counties are free to make their own border policies and travel rules, the EU uses the list as an attempt to unify travel policy for the region.
“Non-essential travel to the EU from countries or entities not listed is subject to temporary travel restrictions,” an EU council said in a statement reported by the Associated Press. “This is without prejudice to the possibility for member states to lift the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU for fully vaccinated travelers.”
The recommendation impacts member countries like France, Germany, Italy, and Greece, popular travel locations for Americans looking to get to Europe. It does not apply to Britain, which withdrew from the EU earlier this year.
The United States is averaging more than 150,000 new cases of cornavirus per day, a level that goes well above the EU’s threshold of no more than 75 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period. In Florida alone, the last week of August showed 690 cases per 100,000 residents.
Deaths from the virus are surpassing 1,200 per day in the United States, a number that is seven times higher than it was just two months ago.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CNN over the weekend that the move is not surprising.
“What is going on now is both entirely predictable, but entirely preventable. And you know we know we have the wherewithal with vaccines to turn this around,” Fauci said. “We could turn this around and we could do it efficiently and quickly if we just get those people vaccinated.”
According to the Brown School of Health’s risk assessment tracker, the United States is in much worse shape than most EU nations. Based on cases per 100,000 people, the U.S. is recording twice as many cases as France, three times as many cases as Spain, and more than four times as many cases as Italy. Many American locales and industries are tightening health restrictions, and Hawaii is considering a stay-at-home order over Labor Day weekend.
With the removal of the United States and the other countries Monday, there are just 17 nations on the EU safe list, including Canada, New Zealand, and Japan.
Although Americans have been allowed to travel to most European nations for non-essential travel for the past few months, that has not been reciprocated. Non-essential travel to the United States from Europe is generally not allowed.
Update: On Tuesday, Italy acted first by increasing restrictions on travelers arriving from the U.S. Head here for more.