BRUSSELS • European Union countries rushing to reopen their borders after months of coronavirus restrictions are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the scourge, according to draft lists of acceptable travellers seen by The New York Times.
That prospect is a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of US President Donald Trump’s handling of the virus in the US, where there are more than 2.4 million cases and over 120,000 deaths.
European nations are haggling over two potential lists of acceptable visitors, based on how countries are faring with the pandemic. Both lists include China, as well as developing nations like Uganda, Cuba and Vietnam. Both exclude the US and other countries deemed too risky owing to the spread of the virus.
Travellers from the US and the rest of the world had already been excluded from visiting the EU – with few exceptions mostly for repatriations or “essential travel” – since mid-March. But a final decision on reopening the borders is expected early next week, before the bloc reopens on July 1.
The potential move partly reflects the shifting pattern of the pandemic. In March, when Europe was the epicentre, Mr Trump infuriated European leaders when he banned citizens from most EU countries from travelling to the US.
Today, Europe has largely curbed the outbreak, even as the US, the worst afflicted, has seen more infection surges in just the past week.
Prohibiting American travellers from entering the EU would have significant economic, cultural and geopolitical ramifications. Millions of US tourists visit Europe every summer. Business travel is common, given the huge economic ties between the US and the EU.
Despite the disruptions caused by such a ban, European officials involved in the talks said it was highly unlikely an exception would be made.
They said the criteria for the list of acceptable countries had been deliberately kept as scientific and non-political as possible.
It was unclear if US officials were aware in advance of the exclusion of the US from the draft lists, which have not been made public.