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EU Removes U.S. From Safe List but Leaves Restrictions to Member States

EU Removes U.S. From Safe List but Leaves Restrictions to Member States

The EU has officially removed the United States from its list of safe countries, but it’ll be up to individual member states to determine what restrictions – if any – will be put in place.

The U.S. joins Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and the Republic of North Macedonia in being removed from the list of safe countries.

The criteria for a ‘safe’ country is that there are “not more than 75 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the previous 14 days” and its “overall response to COVID-19.”

Case numbers of the Delta variant have risen dramatically in the United States in recent weeks.

However, the recommendation is non-binding and is made “without prejudice to the possibility for member states to lift the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU for fully vaccinated travellers,” according the a statement by the European Council.

What Does it Mean?

“The Council recommendation is not a legally binding instrument,” the Council said in its statement. “The authorities of the member states remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation.”

What this means is that though the U.S. has been removed from the ‘safe’ list, it is up to each member state to determine what the appropriate restrictions are to visitors arriving from the U.S. and other countries no longer deemed ‘safe.’

One possible outcome is a patchwork of travel restrictions and bans being imposed by member states that could, for example, see vaccinated U.S. visitors allowed into one country without restrictions but might need PCR tests or quarantine before being allowed into another.

The inevitable result will be confusion for individual travellers that will most likely depress outbound travel from the U.S. into Europe as many cancel travel plans.

What About Ireland?

The government has yet to formally respond to the changes in the list, but sources within the Department of Foreign Affairs have told ITTN that there “isn’t any appetite” to reintroduce mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals from the U.S..

Currently, fully vaccinated visitors from the U.S. can enter the country without testing or restrictions, so long as they have proof of vaccination.

Non-vaccinated visitors must provide proof of a negative PCR test.

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Fionn Davenport is the editor-in-chief of the ITTN group, including ITTN and ITTN Ireland. He's one of Ireland's best-known travel journalists and writers, with nearly 30 years' experience writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet and others.

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