In a stunning revelation, the reports are coming in via leaks by European Union officials and diplomats that American visitors may be blocked from entering countries within the union due to the ongoing spread of the Coronavirus in the U.S.
The New York Times, first to report the possibility that came from draft lists of accepted citizenry, noted American visitors along with Russians and Brazilians would not be on the admission list for the time being. Currently, United States has more than 2.3 million cases and upward of 120,000 deaths — more than any other country.
As borders begin to open, European nations are evaluating what countries make the cut and do so mostly by looking at how outbreaks have been stemmed and how populations have complied with intelligent policies crafted through science and medicine. On the “acceptable” lists can be found such nations as China, as well as developing countries like Uganda, Cuba and Vietnam. Countries such as Taiwan, Korea and New Zealand have been globally lauded for their consistent compliance with intelligent medical policy on social distancing and have kept numbers of cases and deaths in check, if not on the low scale, in per capita comparisons.
The move by the EU is not without precedent. In March, as Europe grappled with the damage wrought by the virus, the U.S. banned citizens from most of the 27 European Union member states from traveling to America. At the time, the U.S. counted roughly 1,100 coronavirus cases and 38 deaths. Recently, White House officials noted that inbound restrictions on European Union countries would be lifted soon, but that has yet to happen. Europe has mostly flattened the outbreak numbers. The United States, however, has seen record infection surges in recent days.
The move in Europe will not be managed without economic pain, especially as summer, a favorite season for Americans to visit Europe, gets underway. The EU hopes to be able to resume free travel and trade among its members but must do so with caution and a widened perspective.
Countries on the E.U. draft lists have been selected as safe based on a combination of epidemiological criteria, the New York Times reports. The benchmark is the E.U. average number of new infections over the past two weeks per 100,000 people, which has now stabilized at 16 for the bloc. The comparable number for the United States is 107, while Brazil’s is 190 and Russia’s is 80, according to a Times database.
A final list of accepted nationalities is expected to be presented next week and although it is only a recommendation, there is enough concern afoot to know that not putting such a conservative policy into place could be devastating to the region. However, the European officials note that nothing is set in stone in the wake of this fast moving, fast changing pandemic and the list up or down will be revised every two weeks. Reporting remains sketchy, however, from accepted and unaccepted nations and so much about the new policies to be put into place depend on a certain truthfulness and testing in each country.
Some EU members have already opened their borders. France, Germany and Switzerland lifted restrictions last week for all arrivals from nations in the European Union or the border-free Schengen zone and joined Italy, Belgium and other countries trying to balance public health imperatives, with economic necessities and fickle public attitudes.
Other European nations, such as Denmark, are not allowing in any external visitors from non-E.U. countries, and are likely to continue with this policy.
Worldwide, there are at this time some eight million reported infections and more than 430,000 deaths confirmed to have been caused by COVID-19. Two million of those cases and some 170,000 deaths have been seen in Europe.