The European Union has removed the United States from its safe list of countries for nonessential travel and is once again recommending that the bloc's 27 member nations impose restrictions on American tourists.
The EU's governing body, the European Council, made the decision Monday in response to the continuing surge of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. caused by the Delta variant.
According to criteria set by the EU, a country must have no fewer than 75 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the last 14 days in order to make the safe travel list, which is reviewed every two weeks.
As the Associated Press reports, the U.S. averaged over 152,000 cases a day in the last week, reversing gains made against the virus since the beginning of the year.
The council recommended lifting restrictions on vaccinated U.S. travelers at the beginning of the summer in hopes of salvaging the tourism season. Now, following a disappointing two months of a Delta variant rampage caused in large part by lagging vaccination rates, the EU has changed its mind and advises member states to roll up the welcome mat again before the first day of autumn has even arrived.
The council points out, however, that its recommendation is not legally binding on individual countries, whose governments remain responsible for setting their own border policies.
That could mean that some European countries will require unvaccinated American visitors to undergo quarantines or submit to additional Covid-19 tests, while the most tourism-dependent nations may opt for more lax policies for the benefit of the economy.
It also means international travelers can expect a confusing and inconsistent hodgepodge of entry requirements across the European continent in the coming months.
In addition to removing the U.S. from the safe travel list, the EU has given the boot this week to Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and the Republic of North Macedonia due to their coronavirus infection numbers.
It's worth pointing out that travelers from Europe are still barred from entering the United States. Many European leaders have urged the Biden administration to lift that ban, but so far they've had no luck, and some observers have suggested the policy imbalance contributed to today's decision.