US citizens likely to be left out as Europe reopens borders

June 24, 2020
People cross the border between France and Spain at Behobie, southwestern France, Sunday, June 21, 2020. Spain reopened its borders to European tourists Sunday in a bid to kickstart its economy while Brazil and South Africa struggled with rising coronavirus infections. At a campaign rally, President Donald Trump said he told the U.S. government to reduce testing for the virus, apparently to avoid unflattering statistics ahead of the U.S. election in November. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Americans are unlikely to be allowed into more than 30 European countries for business or tourism when the continent begins next week to open its borders to the world, due to the spread of the coronavirus and President Donald Trump’s ban on European visitors.

More than 15 million Americans are estimated to travel to Europe each year, and such a decision would underscore flaws in the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, which has seen the United States record the highest number of infections and virus-related deaths in the world by far.

European nations appear on track to reopen their borders between each other by July 1. Their representatives in Brussels have been debating what virus-related criteria should apply when lifting border restrictions to the outside world, which were imposed in March to stop all non-essential travel to Europe.

In recommendations to EU nations on June 11, the European Commission said “travel restrictions should not be lifted as regards third countries where the situation is worse” than the average in the 27 EU member countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

That is likely to rule out people living in the United States, where new coronavirus infections have surged to the highest level in two months, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. After trending down for well over a month, new U.S. cases have risen for more than a week.

The U.S. on Tuesday reported 34,700 new cases of the virus, bringing its total to more than 2.3 million cases and over 121,000 dead. The virus outbreaks in Brazil, India and Russia are remarkably high too, and it’s also unlikely that the EU will let their citizens in.

In a March 11 decree, Trump suspended the entry of all people from the Schengen area. More than 10 million Europeans usually visit the United States each year.

“The potential for undetected transmission of the virus by infected individuals seeking to enter the United States from the Schengen area threatens the security of our transportation system and infrastructure and the national security,” Trump’s proclamation said.

The EU commission also wants the bloc to be open as soon as possible after July 1 to the Balkans region, including citizens from Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

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