EU reviews taking US off travel safe list as Covid cases soar there

If approved, it would mean that EU countries would be advised to reintroduce restrictions for US travellers entering the EU, including France; however member states are not obliged to follow this

30 August 2021
An American Airlines plane Boeing 777 takes off

The EU could be set to take the US off its travel safe list as the Delta variant of Covid-19 continues to spread and case numbers have soared Pic: Santi Rodriguez / Shutterstock

By Hannah Thompson

The EU is reviewing taking the US off its travel safe list, meaning it would recommended that unvaccinated US travellers who wish to enter countries in the bloc, including France, should have to have an essential reason to come.

If France chooses to follow this, it would mean moving the US off its national 'green' list, mostly likely onto its amber one. This means, for those not fully vaccinated, an 'essential reason' is needed plus a commitment to undertake a seven-day quarantine followed by a Covid test.

Reuters reported that the US could be removed from the European Council's safe list this week, after discussions at the end of last week. An announcement is expected today.

This change is because countries should usually have no more than 75 new daily Covid cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the latest 14-day period, to qualify for the safe list. In June, when the US was added to the safe list, this was the case. France followed reacted by placing the US on its 'green' (minimal requirements) travel list.

However the US has not qualified for some time under this rule, though no change had come yet, which some commentators put down to a tolerance during the summer holiday period.

But as of the first half of August, the US had registered 507 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants, putting it significantly above the permitted threshold. Kosovo, Israel, Montenegro, Lebanon and North Macedonia may also be removed from the safe list this week for the same reason.

The change was recommended by Slovenia, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency and is in charge of assessing the countries to which non-essential travel is permitted.

Yet, Bloomberg and Reuters reported that there is not yet unity among the member nations.

Some are reportedly in favour as long as there is no reciprocity from the US on entry requirements (which has not been the case so far). Other EU states are keen not to remove the US from the EU safe list at all.

France's tourism minister has previously complained about lack of reciprocity from the US, which restricts travel from the EU to limited cases such as US residents and those whose visit is in the national interest of the US.

Lobby group Airlines for Europe said in a statement: “Such a decision [to remove the US from the safe list] would be hugely disappointing for Europe’s airlines, not to mention our tourism sector, which has benefited greatly from the influx of American travellers since restrictions were removed in June.”

The full EU travel safe list for third countries can be seen here on the European Commission website. At the time of writing, the US is still on it.

Travel into the US

The US is still closed to tourism travel from the EU, with transatlantic flights open to UK and EU tourists not expected to restart until September or later

President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, urged US authorities to remove the travel ban earlier this month. She called it “illogical” because, she said, the US and EU have similar Covid situations.

All travellers coming from France and who are permitted to enter the US (for example, because they are permanent residents or US citizens) are currently required to provide a negative test result taken within three days, or show proof that they have recovered from Covid-19 within the previous three months.

They must also take a Covid test three to five days after returning to the US. Fully-vaccinated people do not need to quarantine; unvaccinated travellers are required to do so for seven days.

Currently, there are no quarantine measures for travellers from the US arriving in France, but this could change if the EU alters its travel safe list.

France on US highest level

This comes after the US put France on its highest Covid alert level, and warned its citizens against all non-essential travel to France.

On August 9, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) national health protection agency placed France on its ‘Level 4: Very High’ list for Covid risk.

It even said that those who could not change or postpone their travels must be fully vaccinated, and said: “Due to the current situation in France, even fully vaccinated travellers could be at risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19 variants.”

Generally, travelling to a Level 4 country from the US for a non-essential trip invalidates travel insurance.

Related stories

France US travel: pressure is mounting for borders to open

US puts France on highest Covid alert level and advises against travel

Covid-19: Rules for travel to and from France

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
Brexit and Beyond for Britons in France*
Featured Help Guide
What the Brexit deal means for UK residents of France, second homeowners and visitors in 2021 and after
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now