The governing body of the European Union recently recommended that the bloc lift the Covid-19 restrictions on non-essential travel from 14 countries, one of which is the United States.
In a statement released this past Friday, the European Council said that its member countries should “gradually lift the travel restrictions at the external borders.” The countries within this lift include:
- New Zealand
- Republic of North Macedonia
- South Korea
- United States of America
- China, subject to confirmation of reciprocity
There should also be gradual lifts for the special admin regions of Macao and China Hong Kong. The reciprocity conditions for these special admin regions have also been lifted according to the European Union.
There were a few factors that went into this decision, including criteria that covered the “epidemiological situation and overall response to COVID-19, as well as the reliability of the available information and data sources.”
The list is set for review bi-weekly and is based on epidemiological data.
There are countries in the European Union that have already started allowing visitors from the US, though prime minister Alexander De Croo said that they should still take a cautious and phased-in approach to the lifting of these travel restrictions.
As of now, it is possible that United States citizens will see a surge in Covid-19 cases during the winter. By July 4, 70% of adults will be partially vaccinated, which is a goal that was set by president Joe Biden. According to a vaccine expert, the time to stay ahead of the new and potential spread of virus variants is limited.
“Vaccines are our only way out of this,” Dr. Paul Offit told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “Unless we vaccinate a significant percentage of the population before winter hits, you’re going to see more spread and the creation of more variants, which will only make this task more difficult.”
Covid-19 case numbers are going down, as well as new infections, according to Offit. However, there are hundreds of people still dying, and, on most days, at least 10,000 people infected. As of now, rates are still too high to say for certain that the summer lull won’t turn into a surge during the winter.
The United States has already been hit with new surges of Alpha and Delta variants, both of which are highly transmissible. In several states, the spread of the Gamma variant is also on the rise.
To get to a point where the United States has herd immunity, or at least to a point where the virus does not spread very easily within a community, infectious disease experts have had to come up with new goals.
Many experts say that inoculation through either vaccination or infection anywhere from 70% to 85% of the population is a good estimation for herd immunity. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention now says that 53% of the population has at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The US can hope for these European Union recommendations to be formalized by Friday.