Europe Travel Ban: US Covid Cases Still Too High, What You Must Know

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Amid fears of re-lockdowns in Europe, and roller-coasting travel restrictions within the continent, Covid infection rates in the U.S. still rule out immediate hopes of a lifting of the EU travel ban on Americans.

As EU officials again prepare to update the safe country travel list, there is little chance of the U.S., Brazil, Argentina or others being added to it, based on current coronavirus trends.

Despite huge spikes in several countries from Spain to France over past weeks, Covid outbreaks on average in the EU are still well beyond the U.S. median.

The virus epidemiology has the upper hand in determining the lifting of travel restrictions on non-European countries.

But in the Covid travel seesaw we’re all facing, the situation is not one that looks like swinging in favor of American travelers over coming weeks.

This is why:Recommended For You

  • Average Covid case rates in Spain over the past 14 days are about 205 per 100,000 people. That’s the worst in the 30 EU+ countries, and slightly higher than the U.S. Next comes Malta (101.5), France (85), Croatia (84) and Romania (84). Several others are averaging 40-50 new cases per 100,000 in the last fortnight: the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria.
  • This places the EU/U.K. average at 46 cases per 10,000 according to the latest weekly update from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, ECDC. That’s a big hike on the yardstick of 16 used in the first lifting of EU travel restrictions in July.
  • Yet it is still well below the U.S. average of 183 cases per 100,000. Figures range wildly from one state to another: from 248 in Iowa and 94 in California to 13 in Maine and 22 in New York. Note this is based on the case trend per 100,00 people in the past 7 days.
  • With the dramatically different picture in the U.S. between regions let alone state to state, many counties already have infection trends well below the EU average.
  • As of August 30, the total Covid case count for the EU+ countries and the U.K. is close to 2.2 million says the ECDC. That’s for a population of over 510 million. “The rate has been increasing for 38 days,” it notes.
  • The U.S. has close to 6 million cases for 328 million citizens.

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A woman wearing a face mask in Spain Europe as Covid travel bans ease but cases rise
Despite huge spikes in cases in Spain as other European nations, the EU average of new Covid cases … [+] LIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY IMAGES

Covid Seesaw: Cases Rise and Fall, With Travel Restrictions

The situation in Europe as beyond is in constant flux. Just as cases spiked in recent weeks in some countries, leading to border re-closures and new restrictions, others show dramatic falls.

  • One example is Luxembourg which barely a month ago had the worst 14-day rate in the EU, but now is into the negatives. The only country to record such a slump, at -139. A fact that lends support to the governments claim that is was unfairly penalized by fellow EU member states, whereas in fact the high rates came down to a mass testing program.

Trump Travel Ban, Elections–EU Ban

Coronavirus Skeptics protest in Berlin with US and Trump flags against EU travel ban
Coronavirus skeptics and right-wing extremists wave American flags and images of U.S. President … [+] GETTY IMAGES

Some people seem to think that Trump and the U.S. election outcome weigh in heavily on the lifting of the EU non-essential travel ban on American residents. It certainly has huge significance for a decision by the U.S. to end the ban on Schengen arrivals.

But the EU is navigating its own ship when it comes to the travel restrictions and opening external borders to some low-risk countries.

Covid Spikes Again Globally: EU Safe List Shrinks

World Health Organization WHO Global Covid data from country to country
As the WHO map shows, there are many places in Africa mostly that have Covid case rates below the … [+] WHO WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

So far the list is very short and only includes a shrinking number of non-European countries. Currently at 10, the list has remained unchanged almost since the last review on August 7.

With the pending update, the number may continue to shrink due to the flare ups in many overseas countries.

Then again, many countries in Africa and several in Asia marked in pale blue on the map above are now below EU levels and could be added. These include recently removed Algeria. None of those on the current list should lose visiting rights.

Covid map South Central America travel bans and vaccines
Brazil, Argentina and most other countries in the Americas still have Covid rates above the EU … [+] NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES

Reciprocality: US-EU Travel Bans

Of course, second to Covid infection rates, reciprocality too is a key. Which is why China is yet to be officially added to the EU safe country list. It’s the provisional eleventh on the current list.

Almost three months after President Trump hinted that the U.S. travel ban on EU visitors may be lifted for those with low case numbers, his block is still in place. Bar a few exceptions.

While Europe’s cases have seen significant Covid creep since, some countries warrant a lifting of travel restrictions if based on relative infection rates and threats.

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