The European Union recommended Monday that its 27 nations reinstate restrictions on tourists from the U.S. because of rising coronavirus infections there.
The decision by the European Council to remove the U.S. from a safe list of countries for nonessential travel reverses advice that it gave in June, when the bloc recommended lifting restrictions on U.S. travelers before the summer tourism season. The guidance is nonbinding, however, and U.S. travelers should expect a mishmash of travel rules across the continent.
The EU has no unified COVID-19 tourism policy and national EU governments have the authority to decide whether they keep their borders open to U.S. tourists.
The EU also removed Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia from the safe travel list.
The United States has yet to reopen its own borders to EU tourists, despite calls from the bloc for the Biden administration to lift its ban.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The European Council updates the safe travel list based on criteria relating to coronavirus infection levels. It gets reviewed every two weeks. The threshold for being on the EU list is having not more than 75 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days.
Last week in the U.S. new coronavirus cases averaged over 152,000 a day, turning the clock back to the end of January, and the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients was around 85,000, a number not seen since early February.
U.S. coronavirus deaths have been over 1,200 a day for several days, seven times higher than they were in early July.