Europe may ban American travelers as COVID-19 cases surge in US

"The E.U. average new cases for 14 days per 100 000 people is 16. For the U.S. it is 107," one diplomat said.

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/ Source: NBC News
By Alexander Smith

The European Union could block incoming travelers from the United States even after it partially reopens its borders because the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. is still too high, two E.U. diplomats said Wednesday.

The E.U. has drawn up a draft list of countries whose citizens would be allowed to enter the bloc after June 30 as the continent attempts to reopen amid the pandemic.

But according to the most recent working document circulated at a meeting of E.U. ambassadors on Wednesday, the U.S. is not among the countries whose citizens would be allowed in, the diplomats said.

"It's very fluid. There was a list last night. This morning a new one was circulated," one diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about the deliberations.

Wednesday's meeting was briefed that the number of U.S. cases in the past 14 days was 107 per 100,000 people, compared with just 16 per 100,000 people across the E.U., the diplomat said.

Asked if the U.S. was included on the second draft list of countries, they added, "With 107 new cases per 100,000 people, what do you think?" Another also confirmed the U.S. was excluded in the most current version of the list.

The New York Times first reported Tuesday that a draft E.U. list would exclude U.S. travelers from being able to enter the continent.

The U.S. has the most reported coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, topping a league that's followed up by Brazil, Russia and India. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump's fractious relationship with Europe has deteriorated further during the crisis, with the president announcing sweeping travel restrictions in March without telling any of his E.U. counterparts first.

Most travelers around the world have been prevented from visiting the E.U. for months unless their trip is deemed essential.

The reason the U.S. was excluded from Wednesday's list had nothing to do with previous diplomatic relations, but was merely a dispassionate result of its infection rate being too high, the diplomats said.

They were also keen to stress that the negations were not final and the list of countries included could always change. A third E.U. diplomat said that "member states are still fine tuning the criteria on which such a list of third countries would be based."

They added, "The idea is that the reopening of the external borders will be gradually and cautiously. So it's too early to tell anything specific on a specific country."