European Union adds the U.S. to its safe travel list

Aerial images of Kea island also known as Gia or Tzia, Zea, and, in antiquity, Keos, is a Greek island in the Cyclades archipelago in the Aegean Sea. Kea is part of the Kea-Kythnos regional unit.

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LONDON — The European Union decided Wednesday to add the United States to its safe travel list, meaning it will be easier for American citizens to take a vacation in one of the 27 member states, two EU sources have confirmed to CNBC.

Nonessential travel from the United States and from other places had been banned in the EU in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic to avoid further contagion. However, as vaccinations gather pace, the 27 EU ambassadors based in Brussels recommended on Wednesday that the region allow nonessential travelers from eight new countries and territories.

These are the U.S., Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Lebanon, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong.

In an interview with The New York Times in April, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that fully vaccinated American tourists would be allowed to visit the bloc this summer.

But this new EU recommendation could go one step further in allowing U.S. tourists to visit with only a negative test and avoid the need for a period of quarantine. It is now up to the individual EU countries to decide how they will implement the guidelines and allow tourists to enter. Travelers should confirm the rules on their intended destination before flying.

Wednesday’s recommendation at the EU level aims to coordinate the travel rules across the bloc and should be finalized in coming days, following the national decisions from each member state.

UK omitted

One notable absence from the exemption list is the United Kingdom, where almost half of the population is currently fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

One EU official, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the subject, said nonessential travel from the U.K. remains banned “due to the delta variant.”

The U.K. government earlier this week delayed a plan to lift all coronavirus restrictions this month due to rising infections. A recent surge in the number of Covid cases is linked to the delta variant first discovered in India, which is believed to be around 60% more infectious than previous variants of the virus.

The U.K. is now hoping that more vaccinations in the next four weeks will allow it to end all coronavirus measures on July 19.

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