Monday

27th Sep 2021

US maintains summer travel ban on EU tourists

  • The US Covid-related travel ban also applies to UK nationals (Photo: Valentina Pop)

The United States will maintain travel restrictions on the EU, given a surge in Covid-19 cases.

The decision on Monday (26 July) is likely to up-end US summer holiday travel plans for Europeans, and also applies to China and the UK.

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Washington press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the restriction was due to the Delta variant, a virulent Covid-19 strain.

"Given where we are today … with the Delta variant, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons," she said.

She said the strain was spreading rapidly in the US and elsewhere, particularly among those who are not vaccinated.

Similar comments were made by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The Sweden-based agency said that by the end of August, some 90 percent of all new infections in the EU will be due to this new variant.

Those most at risk of infection in the EU will be the "partially or unvaccinated sub-populations," it added. The same strain is also now responsible for some 83 percent of new infections in the US.

The US is also likely to be grappling with many more cases than officially reported, according to researchers at the University of Washington.

US cases may have been undercounted by as much as 60 percent, they say in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The US decision follows other warnings, including demands for Americans not to travel to Cyprus, Portugal, and Spain.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had issued the warning on Monday. Those three EU states are now listed by the CDC as "Level Four: Very High", meaning Americans should not travel there.

The United Kingdom is also a US no-go zone, following a CDC decision made last week. The UK has imposed its own set of restrictions on the EU, which may loosen this week, reports the Financial Times newspaper.

For its part, Spain lifted travel restrictions on the US in June.

But Spain is also currently caught in a fresh wave of infections - although more than half its population is fully-vaccinated.

Its 14-day incidence rate on Monday hit 700 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, the highest registered since early February. Spain's deputy health minister said that more than 65 percent of new cases were among people below the age of 40.

The northeastern region of Catalonia remains the hardest-hit in the country.

Germany mulls restrictions for unvaccinated as cases soar

The surge of Covid-19 cases due to the spread of the more contagious Delta variant has prompted a debate in Germany over whether people who have not yet been vaccinated should face restrictions - after other countries made similar moves.

Delta variant poses 'mandatory' vaccination dilemma for EU

The spread of the more contagious Delta variant has prompted authorities in member states to accelerate inoculation campaigns, and even make vaccination mandatory - in a bid to halt the new surge of cases and avoid lockdowns in the autumn.

EU failing on tracking new Covid-19 variants, MEPs told

The majority of countries in Europe are falling short on tracking coronavirus variants. Only seven member states have increased genome sequencing to the level recommended for detecting and monitoring the emergence and dominance of these strains.

EU keeps door open for US tourists

Non-essential travel from the US to the EU can continue for now despite a surge in US infections and lack of reciprocity, according to the latest European recommendation.

EU and UK frustrated at US travel ban extension

The US remains closed to tourists from the EU and the UK - a situation that has prompted frustration and urgent calls for the reopening of international travel to vaccinated individuals by industry and countries.

Investigation

EU negotiators defend high Covid vaccine prices paid to pharma

In September 2020, the EU Commission's top vaccine negotiator made a pledge - doses would cost between €5 and €15, Sandra Gallina assured MEPs. Little did she know that her fixed cap would crumble under pressure from jabmakers.

EU medicines agency: booster shots not urgent

The European Medicines Agency said that there is no urgent need to administer booster shots to the general population, pointing out that the priority now should be to vaccinate the one-third of Europeans who are not fully vaccinated.

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