Even against variants, covid-19 vaccines are doing their jobs, leading to renewed hope for the safe and continued resumption of international travel. People want to connect, families want to be reunited and everyone needs a break.
Yet, despite the good news, international travel remains complicated, with a great deal of uncertainty around everything from covid-19 testing, to restriction changes across borders.
Would you book an expensive trip today, knowing a place may ban you tomorrow? The European Union is now considering renewing its “ban” on American visitors, but even if it comes through, there’s reason not to panic — yet.
Europe Considering American Ban 2.0
The European Union is briefing journalists on the distinct possibility that the bloc will recommend a ban on American tourists, by removing the United States of America from the EU “Safe List” – potentially within days.
Don’t panic, even if that happens, many countries within the EU will not actually ban Americans. Americans were still off the EU “Safe List” when Greece opened its doors in April, and also when Italy did the same weeks later.
In other words, there will still likely be many European countries which will welcome Americans, regardless of European Union statements or supposed bans in place.
Why is this all happening? European leaders are said to be incensed about one thing: reciprocity. Americans can enter Europe, but Europeans still can’t enter America.
Rising cases, mostly among unvaccinated Americans, would be a justifiable reason for the EU to remove the US from the European “safe list” of outside visitors, and if the move to “ban” happens, that will undoubtedly be the line echoed by leaders.
But Americans visiting Europe already face a number of safety hurdles designed to make travel safe, by demanding proof of full covid-19 vaccination, or a negative covid-19 test before departure for Europe. More than 16 European Union countries also now require proof of vaccination or a recent test for everything from dining to museums.
America Not Reciprocating Open Travel
Europe opened its doors to Americans on the basis of reciprocity for European visitors to the USA. Leadership in the US White House hasn’t reciprocated as expected, even as European countries surpass US rates of vaccination and improving health situations.
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel took the issue up with US President, Joe Biden in the White House weeks ago, leading to new, and now seemingly misplaced hope that the US would act to end ill-conceived travel bans against the European Union and UK. The bans remain in place.
Governments are deadlocked in games of bureaucratic chess which now ignore the science they’re supposedly based on, and as days mount and numerous loopholes are exposed, the bureaucratic measures are beginning to look a lot more like amateur checkers, than chess. Next move, the EU.
Arguments that the EU and UK travel bans are ill conceived center around indisputable fact that the USA does not have travel bans in place for visitors coming from areas of much higher risk, such as Mexico, where vaccination rates are low and covid-19 cases are skyrocketing.
Essentially, Europe is highly vaccinated and is managing covid-19 well yet people are still banned, but people from parts of the world which pose far greater epidemiological concerns, are entering the US freely.
VFTW uses the excellent example of Indonesia, where vaccination rates are extremely low, covid-19 cases are extremely high and there’s absolutely no restriction on visitors flying to the United States. All the while, Germany, which is among the most “on top” of covid-19 remains banned, as does the rest of the EU.
Headed To Europe? Don’t Panic.
The European Commission makes recommendations and member states can choose to ratify the ideas, or give them a wide birth. At this point, the EU hasn’t even officially removed the US from its “safe list”. It’s just making a lot of noise about it, in advance of meetings this week. It may, it may not.
Even if recommendations to “ban” are made, many tourist driven nations will ignore them entirely — and continue welcoming Americans based on vaccination, or testing.
It takes a long time to build confidence in tourism and mere seconds to lose it. Many countries will not risk the damage or economic impact, however frustrated they may be. The European Union simply feels wronged by the continued US travel bans.
By welcoming Americans, the EU bloc made the first moves of travel de-escalation back in June, and if the United States signaled reciprocation for EU visitors in short order and then reneged, that would explain the frustration.
The Biden administration recently cited concerns over the ‘Delta variant’ as reasoning for “kicking the can” on travel bans, but results from the world’s first real world study of the one shot vaccine from J&J against the Delta and Beta variants, published just this week, should now curtail any cautionary tales.
This game of diplomatic chess, or checkers, will continue to play out unless the USA drops European and UK travel bans swiftly. At this point, there’s no indication it will. If the United States doesn’t, expect new frustrations for American tourist visitors headed to Europe.