The European Union is expected to remove the United States from its list of epidemiologically sound countries in the coming week. That’s in part because of the surge in U.S. Covid-19 cases, but is also politically motivated: “reciprocity considerations” for the U.S. continuing to ban visitors who have been in Schengen Europe within the past 14 days.
This would mean that the EU recommends against allowing American visitors, however each country still sets its own entry rules. As a result nothing may change, there could be come changes in rules leading to greater inconsistency, or several countries could ban American travelers.
What we have is a return to ‘regime uncertainty’ which I’ve written about for a year as a key driver of difficulty in booking trips.
- A destination may be open when you buy tickets, but will it still be open when it comes time to travel?
- What about changes to rules for entering any connecting city, in the event of a misconnection?
- And rules for returning to your home country, such as testing or vaccination requirements? (And which tests and vaccines count, taken how recently?)
If rules around American visitors change, it might not happen right away. For instance, several countries rely far more heavily on tourism through the end of August and could implement changes after peak season.
And the U.S. could impose vaccination restrictions for entry as an alternative to bans of travelers from specific regions and such a move could diplomatically head off European retribution for U.S. stupidity. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, for instance, describes a European consultant who traveled to their Skyview campus:
[W]e had a consultant come in, she’s from Munich. She, in order to get to the United States, flew to Cancun for two weeks, and then she was allowed to enter. She was a lot safer in Munich than she was in Cancun. But that’s what we’re doing.
The U.S. bans vaccinated travelers from Germany, where Covid prevalence is low, yet welcomes unvaccinated Indonesians (where there’s one of the worst outbreaks in the world). Indeed a German entering the U.S. who has been vaccinated and tests negative (as required to enter the country) is far less of a Covid-19 risk than the median American you’ll run into in a bar.