Amidst rising COVID infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in the US, the EU is reportedly set to discuss reimposing travel restrictions.
“The US has breached the threshold to be included among non-EU countries that enjoy unrestricted travel into the bloc,” a person familiar with the situation recently told Bloomberg.
The European Council lists several factors to determine whether or not a non-EU country can enjoy non-restricted travel to the EU, including a "stable or decreasing trend of new cases." There are more than 20 countries, including the US, on the Council's list as of August 9.
In its most recent weekly update, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US reported on August 6 that “most US states and jurisdictions are experiencing substantial or high levels of community transmission fueled by the spread of the highly contagious B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant.”
As such, “COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to increase, especially in communities with lower vaccination coverage.”
The CDC reported in its weekly COVID update a 33.7% increase on the 7-day moving day of daily new cases, a 40.0% increase in the 7-day average fo hospital admissions, and a 34.8% increase on the 7-day moving average of new deaths when compared to the previous week.
About 165.6 million people, or 49.9% of the total US population, have been fully vaccinated, the CDC said on August 6.
Separately, the CDC and the US State Department announced on August 2 that Ireland was had been placed under a "do not travel" advisory citing rising Irish case numbers.
Will Ireland reimpose restrictions on travelers arriving from the US?
One EU official told Reuters that a European Council meeting this week “could” re-assess EU entry restrictions on US travelers.
However, the European Council's recommendation of which countries are not subject to entry restrictions "is not a legally binding instrument" - each country in the bloc can adhere to it as it best sees fit.
When most of the EU decided to close its borders due to the pandemic, the Republic of Ireland opted to keep its borders open to travelers from the US, albeit with strict pre-travel testing and quarantine requirements in place that evolved over time.
On July 19, the Republic of Ireland adjusted its entry requirements for travelers arriving from the US, moving in line with the wider EU entry requirements.
Currently, travelers from the US who can provide valid proof of full vaccination do not have to conduct pre-travel testing or submit to isolation or quarantine upon arrival in Ireland. (Some airlines, however, are still requiring pre-travel testing).
A full breakdown of Ireland's entry requirements can be viewed here. If you are planning on traveling to Ireland, you should stay up-to-date with these requirements, as well as your airline's requirements, as they can change.
Despite Ireland lifting its restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers arriving from the US, the US is still continuing its ban on entry for most noncitizens and nonresidents arriving from Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, as well as other countries. It remains unclear when this ban will be lifted, though there is speculation that the US may move to permit entry for fully vaccinated travelers at some point.
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