The European Union will temporarily ban travelers from the United States as it begins to reopen borders to international visitors next month, a sharp rebuke of the Trump administration’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Travelers from several other countries where coronavirus outbreaks are raging, including Russia and Brazil, also are excluded.
EU countries have barred most foreign travelers since mid-March, but many leaders are anxious to reopen their economies after months of lockdown and social distancing measures.
Under the new rules, the EU’s 27 members will open their borders to visitors from 15 countries, easing the pressure on trade and travel for Europeans. People from the U.S., where coronavirus outbreaks are surging in numerous states, could be allowed to return once the pandemic is brought under control.
The New York Times, which first reported discussions around the ban, said officials in Brussels attempted to make the determination on which countries to exclude nonpolitical, relying instead on infection statistics and science.
The U.S. is still reeling from the pandemic. More than 2.5 million people have tested positive for COVID-19, and over 126,000 have died ― more than in any other country. Cases are surging in more than two dozen states that have largely reopened businesses and eased social distancing measures. Many did so after admonishments by President Donald Trump, who continues downplaying the threat of the virus.
Europe, on the other hand, has been largely successful at controlling infections, although the threat of a second wave remains a concern.
The EU’s ban follows a similar restriction imposed by Trump as the virus first began spreading around the globe. In March, the White House issued a restrictive ban on citizens from most countries in the EU bloc, infuriating the union’s leaders. Trump said last month that Europeans would soon be welcomed back into America, but his administration has not yet eased restrictions.
The leaders of the three major countries affected by the EU ban all have been largely dismissive of the virus threat. Trump has routinely suggested the disease will go away on its own, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has rejected scientific advice and embraced an anti-malaria drug that doesn’t work against COVID-19, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared the virus under control, even as cases surge.