EU Bans U.S. Travellers, But May Allow Travel from Source of Coronavirus, China

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a press statement at the Berlaymont building in Brussels on March 10, 2020. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP) (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

The European Union has excluded the United States from its list of “safe” countries as it reopens its borders to foreign travel following the coronavirus lockdown.

On Tuesday, the Council of the European Union, comprised of ministers from the bloc’s 27 member-states, agreed to lift travel restrictions to third-countries for non-essential travel.

As of Wednesday, the bloc will open its borders to nationals of Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay.

Despite being the source of the outbreak, Brussels will also welcome visitors from China, “subject to confirmation of reciprocity” for EU travellers to the communist state. The list will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis.

Notably absent from the list was the United States after reports had circulated last week that Americans would be banned from the bloc. The restrictions also apply to countries like Turkey, Russia, and Brazil.

European politicians claimed that the decision was not political, with Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya telling Cadena radio ahead of the publication of the list: “This is an exercise of self-responsibility.”

“This is not an exercise to be nice or unfriendly to other countries. This is an exercise of self-responsibility,” Gonzalez said in comments reported by Deutsche Welle.

While the EU has maintained the ban was made based on which countries had worse containment of the virus, the movement may be seen as a move towards a tit-for-tat spat with the United States. In March, President Donald Trump banned travel from the European Union over the bloc’s failure to contain the spreading Chinese virus.

President Trump had issued the 30-day travel ban because “the European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots.”

“As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travellers from Europe,” the President added.

Eurocrats reacted with anger, claiming that President Trump had treated the continent as a “scapegoat”, blaming “nationalism” for provoking the U.S. travel ban, and complaining that the UK had been exempt.

The European Commission, the European Union’s powerful executive arm headed up by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, had said at the time that it “disapproved” of the President making the decision without consulting the career bureaucrats, first.


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