European Union adds US to safe travel list
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LONDON – The European Union decided on Wednesday to add the United States to its list of safe travel, which means that it will be easier for American citizens to take a vacation in one of the 27 member states, have two European sources confirmed to CNBC.
Non-essential travel from the United States and other places had been banned in the EU following the coronavirus pandemic to prevent further contagion. However, as vaccinations accelerate, the 27 Brussels-based EU ambassadors recommended on Wednesday that the region allow non-essential travelers from eight new countries and territories.
These are the United States, Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Lebanon, Taiwan, Macao and Hong Kong.
In an interview with the New York Times in April, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said fully vaccinated American tourists would be allowed to visit the block this summer.
But this new EU recommendation could go even further by allowing American tourists to surrender with only one negative test and avoid the need for a quarantine period. It is now up to each country in the EU to decide how they will implement the directives and allow tourists to enter. Travelers should confirm the rules for their intended destination before flying.
Each EU country has taken its own steps to open up travel to international visitors, including those from the United States.
Several EU member countries have already opened their doors, including Greece, Italy and Spain, to American visitors with proof of a vaccine, proof of a recent and negative Covid-19 test, or a combination of both. However, the United States still prevents most non-nationals who have recently visited the EU from traveling to the United States.
Airlines on both sides of the Atlantic have urged governments to open up transatlantic travel for the key summer season and have added services whenever a country reopens its borders.
Wednesday’s recommendation at EU level aims to coordinate travel rules across the bloc and is expected to be finalized in the coming days, following national decisions from each member state.
United Kingdom omitted
A notable absence from the exemption list is the UK, where nearly half of the population is currently fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
An EU official, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, said non-essential travel from the UK remained banned “due to the delta variant”.
The UK government earlier this week delayed a plan to lift all restrictions on coronaviruses this month due to the rise in infections. A recent increase in the number of Covid cases is linked to the delta variant first discovered in India, which is said to be around 60% more infectious than previous variants of the virus.
The UK is now hoping that more vaccinations over the next four weeks will allow it to end all coronavirus measures on July 19.
Meanwhile, the United States continues to block the entry of most non-U.S. Citizens who have visited Britain in the past two weeks. The White House announced last week that it was setting up a task force with Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Europe to determine how to reopen travel.
–CNBC Leslie Joseph contributed to this report.