EU poised to block travel from U.S.

The 27 member states of the European Union

By Irish Echo Staff

The European Union is poised to block travel into the bloc by Americans, this as a result of the failure of the United States to get a handle on the Covid-19 pandemic.

A potential ban on travel from the U.S. over the summer months would take effect against the backdrop of the EU reopening for internal travel from July 1.

If implemented by Brussels, the ban would lump the U.S. in with countries such as Russia and Brazil, the latter fast emerging as a country where the Covid-19 infection numbers could eventually surpass the U.S., which is currently the global leader in a most dubious league table.

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The EU deliberations, which, given various and potentially conflicting national sensitivities, might not ultimately lead to a united front on travel, are reported today in a front page story in the New York Times.

The Times reported that the 27 EU members states (the UK is not now included) were preparing to block travel from the U.S. for potentially two weeks at a time periods. The ban would be reassessed every fortnight.

In addition to the EU member states, any ban would also be applied by members of the European Common Economic Area: Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein.

The prospect of a ban, the Times report stated, "would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome" and would be "a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of President Trump's handling of the virus in the United States which has more than 2.3 million cases and upward of 120,000 deaths, more than any other country."

The prospect of any expended ban directed at the U.S. would be bad news in a bad news year for the Irish tourism industry. There has been virtually no non-essential transatlantic passenger traffic since mid-March when the U.S. itself imposed a ban on air travel from Europe.

For a couple of days that ban excluded Ireland and the UK but the two were subsequently added to it.

The Irish Times was separately reporting today that travel restrictions are likely to be eased only for those arriving into Ireland from countries which have brought coronavirus under control, "despite a State-appointed taskforce calling for the existing two-week quarantine requirement to be dropped completely."

The Times reported "government sources" as stating that ministers were likely to stick with plans for so-called 'air bridges' between Ireland and other countries which have brought the virus under control, with the issue potentially being discussed by Cabinet in the coming days."

The report did not refer to the New York Times reporting of the broader EU-level travel ban negotiations which includes the potential bar on travel from the United States.