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EU looks to reopen borders to vaccinated tourists from other countries

Americans haven’t been given the EU’s blessing quite yet

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A year after roping off its borders to tourists, the European Union (EU) will allow entry to vaccinated travelers from countries that have low infection rates. 

The possibility has been in the EU’s decision-making pipeline for a while, but the bloc confirmed it on Wednesday as part of its recommendations for lifting travel restrictions for visitors. Airlines and travelers alike are already gearing up for an EU reopening. Searches for flights to Europe increased by 19% at United Airlines, an airline spokesperson told Skift.

But, if you’re a vaccinated American and your inner wanderlust is anxious to say “Sprachen de Deutsch” or “¡Estoy aquí, España!”, you should know that you’re not included in the EU’s plans just yet. 

The EU will supposedly issue an approved list of "safe" destinations later this week, although reports say the bloc didn’t disclose exactly when reopening its borders will be implemented. Add to that the possibility that member states like Italy and France might be given the power to override a blanket welcome and establish their own requirements, such as quarantine measures and proof of vaccination.

“The European Union’s risk-based, science-driven plan to reopen international travel will hopefully spur the U.S. to heed the many calls for a plan and timetable to safely reopen our borders,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement emailed to ConsumerAffairs.

Not ready to include the U.S.

Dow said all the right conditions are in place: the number of vaccinations continues to increase, infections are slowing down, and if inbound visitors can prove they’ve been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, everyone wins — except Americans, for now.

“Vaccinated Americans can travel to other countries because EU governments know they’re essential tourism spenders and will safely support economic recovery. The U.S. is being left off the UK and EU safe list because we aren’t yet moving forward to let international visitors back in,” Dow said.

An EU official told CNN that the bloc will take reciprocity into account when drawing up its list. But for now, it’s recommending that countries with less than 75 cases per 100,000 people be included. The U.S. does not meet that mark, however. According to STAT, the U.S. is currently at 10,101 cases per 100,000 people -- a far cry from the EU’s recommendation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has yet to comment on the lifting of the EU’s travel restrictions, but the facts are not in the American traveler’s favor. In its latest Risk Assessment Level for COVID-19, the CDC charts the U.S. as “Level 4 - Very High.”

While it’s not a tit-for-tat situation, the CDC reminds tourists from certain EU countries that — for the moment — they are prohibited from entering the United States. Those countries include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

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