by Sebastian Hughes
The U.S. was taken off the European Union’s safe travel list on Monday, with the international body recommending its 27 nations to reenact restrictions on American tourists.
Rising coronavirus cases in the U.S. promoted the European Council to remove the country from its safe list for nonessential travel. The decision reverses the one it made in June to lift restrictions on U.S. travelers.
“Nonessential travel to the EU from countries or entities not listed (on the safe list) … is subject to temporary travel restriction,” the council said in the statement. “This is without prejudice to the possibility for member states to lift the temporary restriction on nonessential travel to the EU for fully vaccinated travelers.”
The removal only recommends EU members change their policies towards the U.S., but does not mandate it. Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia were also removed from the list, which is updated every two weeks, the Associated Press reported.
The threshold to stay on the list requires countries to have no more than 75 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the last 14 days, the AP reported. The U.S. averaged 588 new cases per 100,000 over the past two weeks, Forbes reported.
The U.S. has yet to lift its restrictions on EU tourists, with discussions between the Biden administration and the bloc failing to agree on an approach, Adalbert Jahnz, the European Commission spokesperson for home affairs, told the AP on Monday.
It is unclear which countries, if any, will follow the recommendations, particularly those who rely on tourists to support their economy.
Croatia, where tourism accounts for 20% of its gross domestic product, saw a summer travel boom after the restrictions on U.S. visitors were lifted. Overnight stays were up 69% in the country compared to 2019 as of Aug. 10, Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac told the AP.
Denmark, the third-most vaccinated country in the EU, announced it would lift all pandemic restrictions on Sept. 10, while Greece requires proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative COVID-19 test in order to visit.
The European Union achieved a higher vaccination rate than the U.S. in late July, The New York Times reported.